Thursday, January 31, 2008

Desperate watching of the Clock

I am currently working the most boring job I have ever worked. The pay is good, but I can’t imagine why. Someone calls maybe every 1.5 hours, and, granted, they never know who they need to speak to and send me on a wild goose-chase to figure out where to transfer them, but that lasts about 30 seconds and immediately subsides. I am working as a receptionist for American Express Corporate Travel Services. Sometimes people call and think they’ve been transferred to the North American department. Thank the Lord that this job only lasts two days. I have no internet access (and am therefore writing this in Word and sending it to myself via Lotus Notes), nothing much to do, and 9 hours to do it in. The 9th hour is for a break that I certainly don’t need…although it’s nice to not be in the front room with the buzzing lights over-head. I am currently stuffing peanut m&m’s into my face. They are delicious.

I have registered with a different temping agency because I’ve heard it’s a good idea to do that…and they’ve immediately offered me an ongoing position at a health center doing general admin AND…..wait for it………………weighing babies. The pay is not the best, but the other job they offered me for a bit more pay was data entry….and that just sounds soul sucking. I can’t think of anything soul sucking about weighing babies. The lady that is working on getting me jobs is Canadian. I suppose the North American camaraderie is what is making it easier for me to get regular work with the new agency…or it could be that the new agency is just a lot better than the other one (other being said with a disdainful grimace). The other (repeat previous stage directions) agency leaves my timesheets until the very last minute and then complains to me when I get them in late. Well, when you send them to me five minutes past the due time, there’s no way for me to get them in before stated time. I mean…really. The other (again) agency will be told the days that my availability begins and will not have work for me until at least 24 hours after that day. I called the new (ooOOOoooh) agency on Tuesday, went to register on Wednesday morning, and Wednesday afternoon, they offered me two positions. The other agency looks at me like I’m crazy when I make jokes…the new (oooOOOOoooh) agency passes them around to everyone in the office and shares a good laugh. The only thing that gave me pause about the new agency was that the girl registering me (English girl) maintained eye contact the entire time that she was speaking to me. Now, normally, the listener is REQUIRED to maintain eye contact, while the speaker has no such restrictions. This girl was staring me down while she went over the guidelines and such. It was a bit unsettling, as I was unable to break eye contact being the listener. You all know those rules? Right?

I have to stop eating these m&ms. I’m getting light-headed.

Well…that killed about ten minutes. Only 39 minutes to go…until tomorrow…

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Skinny

If there's one thing I like, one thing I appreciate about bands from North America, it's the fact that, more than likely, you won't find any of the male members clad in skinny jeans. Maybe it's just me, maybe no one else finds someone's "rocker" credibility to be slightly lessened by the presence of skin-tight, tapered ankle jeans, accessorized by any number of sparkly belt buckles or thrift store cardigans. I mean, geeky rockers are cool, but Weezer never tucked their jeans into their tube socks. I'm sorry. This is why, this evening in Camden, surrounded by North American accents, I relaxed into the scene at a "Stars" show. Now, Stars is a Canadian band, but they still understand the skinny jeans rule. Skinny jeans are for girls and guys I will never...ever...consider dating....but will most assuredly consider punching in the face.

Where have I been the past week, you ask? Well, busying myself being very important...organizing someone else's life. It's much more complicated than organizing my own life. I was working for a of those "order of the british empire" types. She was lovely, and the people she worked with and negotiated with were lovely as well. She asked me to schedule a lunch for her on February the 14th with the private secretary to the Countess of Wessex. When I asked for a location that I might enter into the diary, she looked at me like I was from another planet and replied, "Buckingham Palace". To which I replied, "you'll have to help me with things like this...we don't really have palaces in the states...nor do we have technical royalty." I mean, Brangelina is about as close as we get to 'royalty' in Amerrrica.

Friday night Liam and I went to see the London Philharmonic for a surprisingly low rate. Liam is quite the sweetness. I mentioned that I might be interested in going, and he said he had a football match with some of his teachers from his school, but that there would be more shows in the coming weeks. Then, the next day, I got an email telling me that his football game had been cancelled and he'd gone ahead and booked the tickets to the philharmonic. They played The New World symphony, and afterwards we argued the relevance of such a mainstream piece. My argument was that it takes a great deal of brilliance to create a piece of music that remains to be accessible to almost everyone that hears it, and his argument was that it was used in a bread commercial...but it's not like it was WRITTEN for the bread commercial. It's just been exploited, and that's a totally different story.

Saturday we went to a farm in the middle of the city (in a part of the city I now want to live in) where we got to pet the pigs...not as cute as it sounds. They were wiry, and if you pet them too long, they made terrifying grunting pig sounds and plopped down in their mud pits. I couldn't stop myself from chasing chickens around as well.

Monday I went to register at the Dr's office...I was kind of nervous as this sort of thing usually results in some sort of rejection in America. However, I just filled in some forms and they asked me if I wanted to set up an appointment for Wednesday. WEDNESDAY! (and there was no money involved...NONE) Well, I wanted to, but I couldn't because I've been put on a new assignment beginning that day. It ends on Friday though. I'll have to make an appointment for next week and tell the agency about it this week. I'm also registering at another I've heard it's a good idea when temping and wanting to keep making money on a regular basis (and now that I've completely destroyed the poetry of this blog by inviting you into the mundane of my thoughts...I'll tell you a little bit about washing whites with beiges. It shouldn't be done...and I learned it the hard way...WHY??!!!)

Today I made my final decision about Skinny jeans. Consider it productive.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

How the Swedes Have Laid Claim to My Money

I'll begin this blog, not with anything to do with the title, but with what I did yesterday...and I may even include a picture or two. Wouldn't that be nice?

Yesterday, Liam and I joined Cat and Ashley at the Borough Market. It's a food market. Yes. With many free samples of olives, olive oils, cheese, sausage, cakes, fruit juices, and more. We shared a venison burger on top of that. I wanted an Ostrich burger, but venison won out..this time. To be honest, it tasted like grilled meat. They also sold good American beer. I love getting asked, on top of all the ignorant questions about Americans that I always get asked (why does everyone in America watch Fox News? Why do you all like George Bush? Why do you all hate the earth? Why do you all want to be in Iraq? and so on and so forth), I more often than not get asked why American beer sucks. To this, I often reply, "American beer doesn't suck. You just have to know what KIND of beer to drink." This place sold Flying Dog, Harpoon, and the lesser, but always better than a Bud, Sam Adams. I didn't buy any. I don't really need to, but I pointed it out to Cat and Ashley as actually good American beer, and Liam was there to back me up on this.

We then strolled down to the tower bridge and walked across just as they were raising it for a southern style river boat called the "Dixie Queen" to go under. It was neat to watch it go up.

There was one guy that got so excited about the traffic stopping for the bridge, that he got out of his car and began to take pictures of it...and by it...I mean...his car. His little girl (I'm assuming) was in a child seat in the back, and he was kneeling out in front of the thing, taking pictures...with the raising bridge, not in front of him, but behind him. Granted...the car was very swanky. After the bridge excitement, we got on the Dockland's light rail, which Liam dubbed "the most exciting thing in London." Over-exaggeration is what attracts me to the boy. We went to see No Country For Old Men...a film for which I have been waiting patiently since I left to come here while it was on in the states. It was fantastic. I'll probably need to see it again. If you haven't seen it yet, you ought to.
Today, I decided I needed inspiration. So, I made my way to that store of all stores...created by the take over the world, no doubt...IKEA. It was glorious. After an hour of stumbling through the maze of excellent design ideas, and almost getting run over by moms and their shopping carts, I filled my bright yellow IKEA bag with economic and aesthetically pleasing organization tools...and then I trekked out to the bright Blue and Yellow IKEA shuttle that would take me somewhere where I could get another bus to take me home, with the dulcet tones of a polish girl chattering away in my ear. It sounded a little like this: polish polishpolishpolishpolish Jurassic Park polishpolishpolishpolish Jeff polish Goldblum polishpolishpolishpolishpolish. Wish you were me? Don't deny it. Don't you dare.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Helen of Troy

Today at lunch, I took a walk down a street I had only just discovered, moments from my current office location. There were street vendors selling food and cds, and someone playing Billie Holiday for everyone to enjoy. I had a burrito for lunch from the "mexican food" vendor. It was decent. I also bought myself a copy of the Guardian in which I found a little installment of "The Greek Myths" that they're chronicling right now. This edition was the Trojan war. I didn't get a chance to read it until after my day at work and after my walk through town. I managed to find my way down streets and alleys all the way to St. Paul's and then across the Thames to the Thames path. I realized what it is that I love so much about living in Midtown during that walk. Midtown is the ONE place I always wanted to live in Memphis, and it was so accessible. It was a place I really wanted to live, and a lifestyle I wanted to live that I actually COULD live. Walking by the Thames, I wondered what it would be like to live in the apartments along the river (and not the disgusting little thing that James lives in...for those of you that know), and I wondered what it would be like to live in the pretty little houses in Camden, or Notting Hill, or even shepherds bush...and I London, I will NEVER be able to live in the places I dream about living. I will always have to settle for something less than what I want. Living in midtown was exactly what I wanted...and I could have it. BUT...I digress. Once I decided that the tube was probably safe to brave (as during certain times, it is more than an unpleasant experience), I found my way to the London Bridge station and jumped on....I had to wait through one train, but the next one that came...I got a seat right away, and started reading my Greek Myths insert...trying to get the visions of Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom out of my head....not because they aren't guiltily pleasing, but because they aren't...I don't know....because that's just gay (not that there's anything wrong with that). Anywho...I'm reading, and you all KNOW the story...Paris gets the girl as a gift from Aphrodite. She falls madly in love with him despite the fact that she has kids and a husband, and she runs away with him. Then, her husband convinces, like, a bajillion guys from home to sail over to get her back from Troy...and they happily jump into those thousand ships...even ones that just got married, like, minutes before....AND THERE IT IS MY FRIENDS. A universal truth that I have discovered...and found strangely comforting. Men will drop everything for some action. Even if it's for some other girl that isn't even in love with her husband in the first place...they'll say it's the principal...or it's...I don't know...but once it hits...there's no stopping them(sorry guys...don't worry...I'll comment on the girls in a minute here). SO, when my boyfriend is all "music festival or bust" when, instead, he could be hanging with me, I'm reminded of the guy who sailed to Troy the day after his wedding only to be killed immediately. This hurt his wife so much that, despite the fact that he had gladly run off to defend some OTHER woman, she made an image of the guy and curled up in bed with it. The gods took pity on her and let her have another night, but when that night was over, she burned the image and threw her body on the flames. AND THERE IT IS AGAIN. It's always been this way. Why has the idea of being separated from a lover scared us so much that we've considered not living anymore? Why, when I read a book like Jane Smiley's The All True Travels and Adventures of Lydie Newton , and when her husband gets shot half-way through, do I think to myself, "How can I possibly finish this book?" Don't we eventually realize our own potential? I mean...yeah, but that instinct is ALWAYS there. It's undeniable. What is it that we really want? What are the guys running off to? What are they really trying to find? What are we ladies scared of? What do we need? What do we WANT? and do we EVER really...really get it? Living where I wanted to live was one thing, but I never stopped wanting know...other thing...never stopped being truly terrified of having to live without it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Home is where things stay open 24 hours

So, I'm having a homesickness crisis that, I'm sure, has more to do with being sick for TWO DAMN weeks than actually hating it here. I got up this morning after a night of dry coughing and hitched up my too-big pants with my belt which I can now fasten at the third notch. When I got here I could barely get it past the that I've expelled about five extra pounds of weight in under 48 hours, I'm having trouble fitting into my clothes...and appreciating the free gift. I worked out for two months straight to lose my first 7 pounds of too much beer and eating from this summer...and after 48 hours of body numbing vomiting, I'm ( least) five more pounds lighter...and worse for the wear. Liam commented that maybe it's a blessing (not that he notices my size. I'm always wingeing about losing a few more pounds, and he's always looking at me like I'm out of my mind), and I responded that it would be more of a blessing if I could easily walk up a flight of stairs without getting dizzy. THIS is why they say its unhealthy to lose it fast. I have no energy. I was sifting through papers and making phone calls today, and at one point, I got winded. I know I should just eat a burger, but the trouble is...the thought makes me tired. I'll get there. I ate two cookies after dinner tonight, and didn't feel queezy at all afterwards. SO...home-sickness. Yeah. I made my way to the tube today, under a sky that might have been sunny, if it weren't for the insufferable clouds overhead, actually got a seat on the picadilly line (the trick is to leave way too early for work), but I didn't get a seat on the circle line. Why does that part of King's Cross station always smell like a freakin' bathroom? Is it just me? Anyway, the work didn't stop today, and, as a result, I found myself realizing why I've never aspired to be a PA in my life. I had a minor meltdown on the phone with Liam at lunch when he explained to me that the only place to get good cough medicine was at the pharmacy, but they close at 5....thirty minutes before EVERYONE gets off work. TELL ME HOW MUCH SENSE THAT MAKES? How the HELL do you get what you need if you can only get it during working hours and you happen to be, like EVERYONE ELSE, a person that MUST work to live. I cried a little because I need some medicine to suppress this dry cough that's keeping me up at night, and remarked that England isn't really a free country...because if it were, I could go to the drug store whenever I damn well pleased. SOCIALISM...BASTARDS. Why is it so good in so many other ways? HMPH. I want to go to Target, and when that closes, I want to go to Walgreens, and if I can't find it there amidst the singing toothbrushes and horrible Tennessee t-shirts, I want to drive to Mississippi to get it at Wal-Mart (and then not tell ANYONE). The light at the end of the tunnel? I'm making a great deal more in this job than I was in the last temp job. My temp agent tries to sugar coat everything so much to make it sound like they've done me a big favor when they actually get me a job that pays what I stated I needed to make in the beginning. It's a good thing we communicate mostly by phone so she can't see me rolling my eyes. Liam is jealous, but I've reminded him what I'm actually doing for a living and that it only lasts until the end of the month...when the real PA gets back from her holiday in australia...her month-long holiday....because you can do that here....take a month off if you like.....damn socialists. If only it didn't rain every single day...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I Think England May Be Trying to Kill Me

After gradually coming out of the dungeon of being sick with a cold, I made the trek to the temp agency that seems to be doing a fairly god job of finding me employment. They sent me out on a job that they said would only last two days, but I have ended up working there for the next two or three weeks. I'm working as a P.A. for the chief executive of a charity organization. She's actually a Dame. She's very nice and easy to work for, and it's been fun trying to figure out how to do things. It's been a fun adventure that has kept me fairly busy. Everything was going great...Until...Thursday evening after work, I met Diana at my tube stop, and we went out for a stroll/dinner. We made a visit at Harrod's (that's where the queen shops...from home), and explored the fine jewelry sections as they seemed the most like a museum. We met a girl from New Jersey that was working at Tiffany's and was more than excited to talk to us about the Tiffany setting and to explain to us that we should do whatever we can to live in England. Apparently, at 23, she was living with her boyfriend, with a dog, and a car, and she got scared that this was she sold everything she owned and moved to London to get an MA in literature...and had been there ever since. She was annoying at times...but...also encouraging. Then, Diana and I made our way into the fanciest tube stop you can imagine (the one right outside of Harrod's), and travelled to Brick Lane to get some delicious Indian food. It was lovely, and the food was delicious. We shared a bottle of wine, and reminisced about past natural disasters (because sometimes you just have to), and then we made our way the time we got to Turnpike lane, I was feeling a little disoriented, and nauseated. We quickly walked back to the house, and I took a shower and got ready for bed, only to realize that I was having trouble standing up, breathing, and not crying. Liam informed me that I needed to call in sick to work for Friday, but I was worried that I would lose my position, so I just said I would see how I felt in the morning. After throwing up the fourth time in 3.5 hours, I decided that he was right...calling in was probably the best option. Liam was quite the hero. He realized that I probably had the dreaded Norovirus that has been sweeping the country since after Christmas, and looked up what to expect from it on the internet. He got me a bucket to keep by my bed and stayed up with me as long as it took. He called my work in the morning and expressed to them that according to the BBC, I would be able to go back to work on Monday and was hoping to hold onto my current position., but that I could NOT go to work that day. He got me some horrible stuff to drink with lots of electrolytes and whatnot and when I complained and begged for Sprite, he convinced me that I HAD to drink the horrible stuff because it was the best way to keep myself Hydrated. He was very adamant about it...and to tell the truth, it did make me feel slightly stronger and better. He kept playing movies for me on my laptop while I moaned and groaned in pain and sorrow, and he, at one point, told me how lovely I was...although this must have been a lie...he had cleaned out my throw up bucket and other things that had been destroyed in the onset of the virus...and I looked like death....but he told me I was lovely none-the-less..and for that, he is my hero. I haven't eaten solid food in over 24 hours, but I've been keeping hydrated, and I am feeling a little stronger today. The symptoms are gone. I'm excited about eating some crackers and jello, and excited about one day...and hopefully for days in succession...not being sick.

Friday, January 4, 2008

It's Hard to Remember the Good Times

When you're sick,(and yes, Mr. Semore, Dr. Weathers, Mrs. Donaldson...I'm talking about YOU) the world is not your oyster. In fact, it is so far from being your oyster, you might have a hard time thinking it ever was (like when you graduated from high school) or ever will be again (that moment you keep waiting for after graduating from college...that never comes). I fell ill on New Year's Eve, and in protest, went out and partied anyway. I say that, right before I begin to try to muster some sympathy, and I totally destroy my chances...I shoulda known betta. What followed was two days of not being able to speak...literally (and I don't mean literally...I mean LITERALLY), one day of intense amounts of mucus escaping in droves out of every orifice in my head, a night (so far) of absolutely no sleep because of the one nostril/roll over/the other nostril (YOU KNOW) syndrome, and a day of sweating, extracting small portions of my brain through my nose, and having painful coughing fits at inopportune moments in the theatre (during a friggin play). AND IT'S RAINING! AND COLD! and while I was washing my face tonight, the hot water cut out and I splashed my face with ice cold water. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! I keep thinking about Monday...wondering what it'll be like....thinking about next Friday...will it be the same...It's so hard to imagine life without this mammoth of a cold...does it exist? To be continued...