Saturday, September 30, 2006

"Everyone deserves the chance to fly."

Another week gone by. Next week I’ll have been here a month, which just seems unbelievable as it has flown by.

Work was good this week. I really feel like I know what I’m doing and so far I’ve been keeping busy, lots of stuff to do, multi-tasking. It can be stressful but it’s what I like for the most part. I still have moments of “what am I doing here” and “what was I thinking," but it's only temporary, and it was my decision, after all.

Of course, this was before a client asked for chamomile tea, which I said we didn't have, he then haughtily informed me that any herbal tea is chamomile. First, is it really? Because I was under the impression that chamomile was a specific kind of tea. But I mean, could he think for a second that I’m an American, tea is much less of an integral part of our culture than it is here, so maybe consider that I’m trying to learn your customs, and cut me some slack. I mean, I very well could have said something like, “This is the reason we threw your tea in the harbor, bitch.” But I didn’t.

Luckily this was an isolated incident, and everyone else has been incredibly nice and I’ve talked to a lot of people this week and felt very welcomed.

But the highlight of this week was seeing “Wicked” on Thursday. A large part of why I love London so much and why I wanted to come back was the theatre. In the drama class I took here last summer, our professor told us that after learning to examine plays critically in his class, we’d never be able to just see one and simply say “I loved it” or “I hated it,” that we would be much better equipped to critique and analyze what we see on stage. That’s why whenever I see a play I’ll write about in here, more for myself than anything else, because I like to examine what I saw and remember every little detail.

I knew only a few things about the play before I saw it. I knew it was about the witches in Oz “before Dorothy dropped in,” that it was based on a book, that Karey loved it, and that Idina Menzel starred in it. I like knowing enough about a play that I’m not shocked when it starts, but also not knowing enough so that there are still nice surprises. I also knew none of the songs, so that was interesting as well.

First, the sets were spectacular, some of the best I’ve ever seen. They were elaborate and beautiful, while not overpowering the stage or the actors. I thought they portrayed the Emerald City beautifully, with every shade of green imaginable. The actors used every part of the stage, and everything just blended seamlessly.

Second, the actors. The woman playing Glinda was good, though a bit annoying but I know that’s the part. She had a good voice, a little too operatic at times, but she was good at what she did. But the voice did get on my nerves because whenever she and Idina sang together, you always heard hers above all else, and I thought the harmony could have been better. Adam Garcia, aka guy from Coyote Ugly, was also in it, and while his voice wasn’t that strong, he moved incredibly well, just a great dancer and I really liked him in the part. And of course, Idina. As soon as she came on stage, the whole audience went nuts. And throughout the show she got the most cheers and applause nearly everytime she did anything. Her voice is so powerful, so beautiful, and I can’t believe when I first listened to her voice on the Broadway recording of Rent, that I didn’t like it. I plead temporary insanity I suppose. But she is just a great actress and was great playing funny, angry, love-sick, and sad.

Third, the music. It actually took me maybe three or four songs before I got into them, but once I did they were wonderful. My favorite was “Defying Gravity” at the end of the first act, I think, and also the one about how no one mourns the wicked. I also liked any of the ones where Idina belted it out and the audience went crazy. That was also an amazing part of the show, how into it the audience was. There was a great energy, which I don’t always feel at shows but that I felt at this one, that everyone was into it, everyone was excited, and that everyone was being touched by what they were watching.

Finally, the actual story. I thought it was cute how there were subtle allusions to “The Wizard of Oz” thrown in throughout, it helped make the connection between the story everyone knows, but id it without beating you over the head. I liked the plot, about standing up for what you believe in, no matter how different it is, and challenging authority. The program featured a piece by the author of the book on why he wrote it when and how he did, about seeing things in society you don’t agree with, about challenging social norms and the status quo, especially if those in power are helping to perpetuate it. I love plays that have a message, that can be written or take place years ago, but still resonate today, and do so in a non-preachy, sneaky in a good way.

Next entry I’ll answer the questions from the last entry, so if you have something you want to know but haven’t asked do it now!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Question Time

I'm bored. Sitting at work on reception, with very little to do. I've done everything I can possibly do on the internet and I don't want to read my book. Our phone system is down, with all our calls being diverted to a mobile. It's amazing how confused people get when you tell them they can't talk to who they want to. "You mean they aren't at their desk?" "Then how am I talking to you?" "Please put me through anyway." I've also discovered how incredibly polite British people are when they realize they have the wrong number, "terribly sorrys" and "apologies for the inconvenience."

Since I'm bored, I'd figure I'd open it up and let people ask me questions. Anything I haven't covered that you are just dying to know. So ask me anything, within the boundaries of good taste, and I will respond. Anyone can comment, even anonymously, so let me have it!

Monday, September 25, 2006

First week of work = dead tired. I am just not cut out for a 9 – 6 day, it’s completely unnatural. I’m beginning to learn my way around the office, remember some of the names, hit the right buttons on the phone. I haven’t hung up on anyone or transferred anyone to the wrong person, like I did a lot of this summer, especially the hanging up part, so that’s good. It’s still hard some days because I feel like I should be doing more, but I know it’s not forever. A hard part is remembering names, since I’m terrible at that, and getting people to tell me their names when they say stuff like, “Leaving for a bit, let so and so know.” First, I don’t know who you are, I don’t know who so and so is, and I don’t think so and so is going to understand who I’m talking about when I say the guy in the striped shirt and perfectly creased pants just left. (Sidenote: Seriously, how do people get their pants creased so perfectly? Is there some trick no one’s ever told me because I can never get it right.) Other than that, it’s a lot of small stuff to remember and get done that will take time, and since I am not exactly known for my patience, it’s frustrating.

Took pictures of the flat just have to get them uploaded. Will do soon.

Sunday I finally made it out to a church, the American Church in London. It’s American style of worship, with a lot of Americans in attendance, but also has quite a few British people and other internationals. I really really liked it there and will definitely be going back. And file this under it really is a small world. The associate pastor, who came and introduced himself before the service, went to Duke Divinity and knows someone I know from BSU. He also worked at a church in Chapel Hill that I went to once, and I am almost certain I met him there. The reason I think this is today, before he came up,I thought, “Hey, that guy looks like Eric Montross.” and I remember thinking that the time before. I stayed after the service as they happened to be having a newcomers lunch, got some free chicken and potatoes and bread, and met some nice people. There were also two British teenaged girls who were completely enamored of me and this other girl because we are American. They asked us all these questions, about if the stuff they see in the movies is true, like about prom, big houses, and high heels. And they loved our accents, which is so weird. It was so cute and I told them to see me next weekend if they had anymore questions.

This week I have been struck more than anything, yet again, by British food. Sometimes I feel like it all might as well be in another language when I’m shopping and I have the hardest time finding exactly what I want. Some random observations (that may apply just to my local supermarket, Somerfields):
-They have a whole section of shelves for varieties of mayonnaise, but only ONE kind of mustard. ONE. And it’s not French’s.
-Fish is everywhere. Maybe it’s like that in the states and I just never really noticed, but here I definitely noticed when in my fruitless (and in vain, I know,) search for pizza rolls left me empty-handed.
-They have chicken nuggets marketed as “Southern-fried.” Unless the southern UK is known for their chicken frying talents, which they very well may be, I can’t help but smile. Though I have not been brave enough to try it yet.
-I can buy a thing of spaghetti for 17p. That’s just awesome. And it’s good.
-I just realized I have yet to buy any Nutella and that is just a travesty.

So yes, right now I really am missing American food. But the plentiful and free biscuits (biscuits=cookies) at work help ease the pain. But really, I eat way too many, but who can resist free McVitties or Kit Kats?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

"I've got to do something about the way I look. I mean a girl just can't go to Sing Sing with a green face."

I know I am due a long, detailed post, and I swear I will do it soon. But I am taking advantage of the fact that there is free wireless internet in the green space outside my flat, which I had to find by walking around moving my computer around while some tourists hogging the bench stared at me, to write about two completely random things that barely have anything to do with London.

But today I saw, with my own two eyes, a foot away from me, AUDREY'S LITTLE BLACK DRESS FROM BREAKFAST AT TIFFANYS!!!! The very dress that Jan and I argued over who could bid on. (No worries, it's expected to go for something like 30,000 pounds? Or more.) And also no worries, Jan, because neither of us could fit our thigh in that dress it's so tiny.

The story: I saw on TimeOut London that Christies is auctioning off a huge lot of Barbie dolls, and that the public could view them this weekend. So I, being a perpetual child-at-heart when it comes to Barbie dolls, set out to South Kensington to find them. And I did. And oh my gosh there were so many! I even saw an original 1954 first Barbie in the black and white striped bathing suit. They had a room full of post-80s Barbies still in the boxes, many of which I own. They even had "The Rockers" Barbies, which were my favorite, but that I no longer have thanks to a certain younger brother with an affinity for pulling their heads and arms off. In short: it made me really happy today seeing all of this stuff, though it would have been even better if Mom was here because she's the reason I love them so much and I know she probably owned half of them. So I missed you more today Mom than any other day. :-( Ok, so now everyone knows I am a Barbie fiend. On to one of my other obsessions: Audrey.

After being in awe of all the Barbies, I turn a corner and see a black dress out of the corner of my eye, surrounded by vintage Audrey movie posters. As I got closer I saw that it was THE dress, from the opening scene of Breakfast where she's outside of Tiffany's eating her scone and coffee, still in her tiara and pearls. Sigh, I will be watching this movie tonite. I'm pretty sure my eyes bugged out of my head and I actually thought I was going ot cry. I wanted to touch it so bad, but I think even the stuffy Christies people probably would have tackled me for that. And there it was, just as perfect and pristine as it must have been 40 years ago. It would have fit me in height, I think, but certainly not in any other way, she truly was a tiny tiny woman.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

"There wasn't an F name in the Bible, so they named him Frankincense, because he smelled so sweet."

I was a little lazy this weekend, but it felt good. I figure it’s good to be out, even if just sitting and relaxing, while it’s warm and I still can. So after a few errands Saturday morning, Marissa and I set out for Victoria to try and get tickets for “Wicked.” It was a long walk, the length of Hyde Park and then some, but it was good to see different areas and just see more of the city in general. We passed the famous Dorchester Hotel, though we didn’t see any famous people around it. We walked the Park Lane area near Hyde Park, which is a really nice area. We weren’t able to get tickets for that night’s how, but we did get them for Sept. 28. I hate having to wait that long but they were cheap and I know it will be worth it. Or at least it better be or it’s Karey’s fault.

And because I apparently forgot I don’t get paid for another week, I went and saw another show anyway – “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.” I couldn’t count how many times I’ve seen this movie, and I was really excited to see it on stage. It was only ok, I’ve seen better and I’ve seen worse. Parts of it were just like I wanted it to be, and others fell short. Especially the accents! Who knew that settlers in 1850s Oregon had combination bad Southern/British/Irish/Cockney/and maybe Scottish accents. The actors kept slipping into their real voices, or using a terrible Southern-type accent I highly doubt was in the west at this time, and it made it really hard to identify with the characters. They also didn’t have my favorite part of the movie in it – where they all dance at the barn building. They had them dance at a social, but it wasn’t the same. They also cut out the part where the girls dance in their room about being spring/summer/June brides. They did however add a song - that was terrible. I zoned out during it and just stared at all the pretty gold in the theatre. My favorite character in the movie aside from the two leads is Gideon, and this Gideon was pretty good. He was a trained ballet dancer though, and it showed when he’d start doing these pirouette things that just didn’t fit with the rest of the dancers. This is my long-winded way of saying I liked the show, it wasn’t a terrible waste of money, but I’ll take the movie any day.

Now today I’m thinking of just going to Regent’s or Hyde Park for some people-watching and reading. It’s nice out and I really do want to take advantage of it before it gets bed. Pictures of the flat and such will probably come next week. We are still trying to get it all in order and I want to wait to take pictures.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I wrote this entry on the couch in my flat, after finally being brave enough to plug my laptop in. I just knew considering all that Javier and I have been through, he was going to blow up or start smoking, just to spite me. But so far so good. (Knock on wood.)

Day two of work on Friday. I hope I get used to the hours quickly because as of now I am ready for bed the second I walk through the door. The job really is just basic, boring stuff, Mom said I don’t write enough but that’s all I have for now. It will be a lot of running around on the days I’m not at reception, and a lot of just doing whatever you’re told. It’s a lot of random, little things that have to be done, which can get daunting, but they seem like they’ll be pretty patient until we get the hang of things.

We organized a bunch of books and brochures today at work, once again letting me put my three years of library work and a lifetime of organizing skills to use. The brochures were for these amazing hotels, resorts and spas around the world. Bali, Bora Bora, Seychelles, Bangkok, Phuket, Mauritius, and more, places I never would even think of. The hotels are unbelievably gorgeous and make me just want to go, go, go. I even looked at a magazine called “Carolina Architecture,” which I immediately grabbed and was glad to see it refered to “my” Carolina. (And some of South too, bleh.) It had some amazing homes in Asheville and Hickory though.

We are still in the process of making our flat more like a home. The Woolworth’s near us has become our friend. I find it funny that I had never set foot in a Woolworth’s until moving here, but I’ve been three times already in the last three days. I would kill for a Target right now though – oh gosh I really miss Target. I’m starting to miss the strangest thing – grits, Anderson, the smell of my room. But oh the grits. I had to try and explain them to Marissa today, because she’s never had them! Gasp! I didn’t even know where to begin. I was just like “They’re grits. They’re good. They’re…grits.” Since I like to fancy myself some sort of writer, I am going to challenge myself come up with a better description. And of course if someone would like to send me some to assist in my efforts, well, they would not go un-appreciated.

I bought towels today at Marks and Spencer, I know, I live a fascinating big city life. But they make me happy because they are hot pink, and I’ve never had hot pink towels before. I was going to be practical and get green ones in case I take them home so they’ll match, but I figured I’m in London and every girl should have hot pink towels at least once in her life. And they certainly beat my Europe towel I bought in Germany last year, that really is only slightly larger than a hand towel and doesn’t even wrap completely around my body.

Finally, I have decided one aspect of my personal hell would be having to walk down a street full of wonderful clothing stores, day after day, and not being able to buy anything in them. This is what it is like to work on Oxford Street in London. Hell. Full of houndstooth coats and smart blouses and cute skirts and pretty shoes.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

She works hard for the money

I'm a working girl now. First day as a junior admin assistant. Yes, four years at one of the top universities in the country and I am qualified in the UK to make sure the tablecloth is taken off the boardroom table before meetings, shop for biscuits once a week, and deliver post. Whew, so glad the all-nighters, loans, and thousands of pages of reading weren't for nothing.

Just kidding, I am alright doing what I will be doing for the next six months, knowing if nothing else, it will push me further to realizing what I really want to do with my life. And at least I'll be in London while I'm doing it!

Today was basically day one of like 35 of training. It's a lot of information but not hard work, and I think once we actually start doing the tasks, and not talking about doing them, it will be fine. It seems like a really nice, open office, with a good mixture of people. I also think it will be very interesting, just the project names of the things they are designing are interesting. And even though I swore after this summer I would never work another reception job again, at least I won't be dealing with crazy cat lady tenants bitching about their refrigerators and $70 cat food. Or owners with closets of hemorrhoid cream. (That was all just for you Angela. :-)) And it will be good to alternate the somebody's bitch part with the reception part.

It's also not a bad walk to work. I realize I say that now, after the first day, and when I'm not in danger of dying of exposure, but we'll see. If only I could lend Marissa some of my legs it would be an even quicker walk. Any of my friends who have had to physically pull me back to keep me from walking too fast now what I am talking about.

So I'm sitting in this super-cheap, super-nice internet cafe not far from my flat, and I keep smiling to myself and I think the people around me are a little freaked out. But I mean, they are playing old school En Vogue on the PA system and how can you not smile at that?

Oh, the flat. We moved in yesterday, finally. I think it will be nice. Very safe so far, well-lit, quiet, but near a main road, and a good amount of other flats around us. Nice size room with large ceilings. Our flatmates seem very nice. The Italian guy is very nice and showing us how everything works. (Gas stove you have to light with a match - scary.) And the other two girls are Italian as well but don't speak much English, but are still very nice. And they are all so clean and I think it will work out well. Knock on wood. We're still trying to get situated and everything but it feels good to have a place to come home to at the end of the day.

We went to a pub night for BUNAC last night and I talked to some people and got one girl's number. We both really want to see "Wicked" and may try to go on Saturday, if I can get cheap tickets. But the pub was nice even though we got there too late to eat and I didn't drink anything. But after a long day like today, I don't know people have the energy to do anything after work.

I feel like my entries are too long so if you get through them all I thank you. But I tend to ramble and rant when I'm talking so why should when I'm writing be any different?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Nothing new to report but I thought I'd check in. One more day of freedom before the job starts - and I couldn't be more thrilled. I like free time but I hate this state of limbo and just want a routine and structure. I may be regretting that two months from now, but I like order.

The last few days have been just exploring the city, walking more than I ever have in my life, which is good. I'm getting a much better feel for things and learning my way around better.

Sunday was spent relaxing in Hyde Park, reading and listening to music. We then headed for Westminster, to see Big Ben and such. I got my first glimpse at 10 Downing, or the armored guards rather leading to it, which I somehow missed seeing last time. Then we chilled in front of the Eye and had a "dinner" of a waffle and ice cream. It was good and terribly unhealthy.

Monday we did some errands, walked a lot, relaxed in Regent's Park, and some more stuff I can't remember. Today we went to the British Museum, wandered around Bloomsbury, and "shopped" on Oxford Street. We did very well, I think, and I only bought a cheap pair of flats that I really really need. :-)

We still haven't moved into our flat yet, hopefully it will be tomorrow. I'm just sick of living out of a suitcase and want to get settled. I guess I'm just antsy to get my life started for real, since right now it just feels like I'm in a holding pattern.

Hopefully more exciting things to report on next time.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

First weekend in London and I'm too exhausted to enjoy it. But I guess it's a good exhausted as everything appears to be working out. Got a job, roommate, and flat, all within a matter of days. It has happened a lot faster than I ever thought it would, and I just hope that I've made all the right decisions and that everything will work out. Nothing in my life ever works like clockwork so I'm not expecting this too, I just hope it doesn't all come crashing down right away.

First, the job. I will be working at an architecture/interior design firm. Mom looked it up and said it's one of the premier resort design firms in the world, with offices everywhere. I will be a receptionist and junior administration assistant, alternating days between the two. Answering phones one day, and then running around doing whatever they want the next. I don't know how this will ever help me in my future as a journalist, and less Anderson Cooper calls and wants me to run around for him, and then, well...

The roommate. I met her at BUNAC one day and we just decided to live together. She's a journalism major as well, and is from New Hampshire. She says wicked a lot and has a slight accent, but is nice. (And she lives about 40 minutes from Boston so her accent could be a lot worse.) This is for you Karey: the first thing I thought when she said she was from New Hampshire was "Ooh, that's where President Bartlett is from." I didn't say it though. Oh, and I also want to ask if their maple syrup really is better than Vermonts, as the Pres says. (Was it maple syrup or their cheese being better than Wisconsin? I don't know, I should just e-mail you this.)

We went through an agency to find a flat, because on top of job hunting and dealing with hostel-living it was just too much trying to sort it all out. So we are in Paddington Green, across from the Edgware Road tube station. It's 15 minutes to Hyde Park, about the same to Regent's Park, 15-20 to Oxford St, and also close to Marylebone (sp). It's an interesting area because one street can be so different from the next. We asked around the area to check for safety, and even interviewed a police officer, and everyone thought we would be fine, just to hold on to our bags, as everyone says anywhere. And the good thing is he only required two weeks deposit and two weeks rent, plus if we are unhappy at all we just give two weeks notice and he can even possibly help us find a different place. We're sharing a room in a flat with three other people. There's no living room, which we hope won't be a problem, but there is a nice and modern kitchen and a nice big bathroom.

The room has two beds, a couch, a table, two wardrobes, a chest of drawers, a fireplace, and a tv with satellite. All bills are included and he said he could get us internet if we pay a little more a month, but we'll see since I found a really cheap internet place and I should have it at work. I'm just praying that it will work out and we'll be happy there. I got a good feeling from the place when we saw it, so let's just hope the feeling stays.

Tomorrow I hope to finally be able to do something fun. Actually see the city that I'm living in without constantly worrying about everything. And finish a meal without getting nauseous from worry.

Hopefully this will satisfy everyone that has been telling me I need to be more detailed (coughJoeyMomcough). I swear I'm reading everyone's e-mails and will respond ASAP, so just keep sending them!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Well, today was about as good as the other days were difficult. First, I met a girl while on the computers at BUNAC, and we decided to live together. She's from New Hampshire, a journalism major too, and seems really nice.

Second, I got a job! It was the first interview I went on, which many may think wasn't smart, especially since it only pays £7 an hour, but I feel really good about it. The people were incredibly nice and funny and I just got a really good feeling. And by a weird turn of events, the girl I'll be living with will be working there too. Start on Thursday, which is a little later than I wanted but better than nothing. And I feel better knowing that I have a job.

Now the only hard part left is finding a place to live, which just may prove to be the hardest part yet. We would like to live close to work so we can walk, but since it's off of Oxford Street, which is just a prime location and near where I wanted to work anyway, it is going to be harder I think since it's so centrally located. So keep your fingers crossed and say just a few more prayers for me.

I am so thoroughly exhausted and am actually looking forward to going back and crashing at the hostel. Thanks for all the e-mails you've been sending, it makes me feel a lot better and I know once some of the craziness dies down and the homesickness sets in, I'll need them even more.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Cheers from London!

I didn't mean for it to take me so long to update, but I sort of forgot I had a blog. Oops. :-)

I got here fine, obviously. The flights were fine, though I did have to sit in the middle of the middle section on the flight to London, so that really sucked. I couldn't sleep and the guy in front of me felt it necessary to fully recline for the entire flight duration. And no matter how hard I bumped my knees into the back of the seat, he didn't take the hint.

The hostel here is fine. Not the best I've stayed in, not the worst. But I am really looking forward to finding my own place so I don't have to live out of a suitcase, wear shower shoes, and deal with incredibly obnoxious and loud roommates chattering on in a foreign language and wearing jingle bells at all hours of the night. (I kid you not, I swear one of them must of had on one of those collars that reindeer wear. Or was practicing her tamborine.)

I just got my first interview, for tomorrow, and I also have one set up for Monday. I've e-mailed a bunch of other people, and have to call another guy back. Only problem is I have no idea what the job or position or company is b/c I've been looking at so many, so the job could be over before it's ever started.

I think that's it for now. I'm trying not to get too overwhelmed or disheartened, but it's hard. I went and saw Parliament and the Clock Tower yesterday so as to remind myself why I like it here so much. I also bought a cell phone today, so if you want my number e-mail me. Or you can just e-mail in general, I like opening my e-mail and seeing where someone has written.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end

In typical me-fashion, any new stage of my life must be accompanied by either one or all of three things:
  1. a new outfit
  2. a new haircut
  3. a new journal
I already have the new haircut, I'm sure I'll be adding numerous outfits into the mix soon enough, and as I've already started a new paper journal, it seems only right to start a new online journal as well.

(And there is of course the fact that I apparently reached my e-mail peak while in college, because I am averaging a week or more to return e-mails, if I even start them at all. Considering how bad I am at talking on the phone, I'm hoping this is only a phase.)

So here it is, so all family, friends, and random passer-by can see how I am spending the next six months, and beyond, of my life. I'll put the day-to-day occurrences in here, keeping the e-mail correspondence to more personal matters.

It is now time to get to the packing, as I have put it off long enough. The large pile of clothes I want to take are taunting me, as they know they can not all possibly fit in the annoyingly small suitcase they have to go in. This is when I wish the invention I came up with years ago to turn my Barbie clothes into real life-size clothes, and visa versa, had actually been invented. How cool would it be to fit your entire life into a snazzy pink 12x12 plastic case?


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