Ah, the first few days of December. The air is crisp and cool, there are twinkle lights everywhere, and if you try really hard (and grew up in Maine) you can smell the snow before it even hits the ground. You start doing holiday stuff-Hannah and I spent last night building her little paper tree her mom sent her, had pizza and mini-pies her roommate brought home, and watched a bootleg copy of The Santa Clause online. Good times...it actually really was :)
For me, it means my inevitable holiday cold. I use to think that this only had to do with the stress that comes from finals, moving from school to home, that sort of thing. But apparently, you can still get the plague away from all that kind of stuff. Although I am living in a room with 15 other people…and its still cold season…and I’m kinda stressed…guess all the factors are still there.
Things have been ok. Not fantastic, but not horrible. Courtney’s visit, as I’m sure you saw from the last entry, has been a big highlight of my time here. We had so much fun, and it really showed me how far I’ve come. I know my way around, I budgeted, and I enjoyed a lot of the things offered here that I don’t have at home. I was really sad to see her go, but it also gave me hope. Courtney and I are very (VERY) similar people, but we never got as much time to figure that out when we were at school. We had other sisters, friends, work, etc., but I feel like we really came out of this week with a much stronger bond. It’s the first time in a long time that I’ve spent every day with someone in a week, and had no fights, no bad feelings, no frustrations or complications. It was refreshing.
After she left, I started my two new jobs. Now, before we get into that, if I’m not bouncing off the walls, its only because I am fond of security and steady work. These have neither, but I’m ok with it…kind of.
First of all, I started working with the lovely Johanna—this may be the best job I’ve ever had, and the shortest. She has her own company, and lives mostly in the states. Her husband is from Chicago, while she is British, so they also have a beautiful flat in Maida Vale here. Her company—which I may very well apply to full time when I get back—is based out of LA, and designs training programs for different companies. For example, Jo’s latest program is Positive Under Pressure; a professional development training program that she did for Boeing that helps their employees learn how to stay positive under pressure, and manage stress in constructive way. She is currently working on a bigger program for them, and the two areas that I am assisting her on are Gender Roles and the 4 Generations At Work. Here is my favorite part: she is a total movie buff, and was a theatre major at university. I told her about my senior seminar on gender and culture in Disney films, and after looking it over, she is now having me re-write it as a 4 hour seminar!!!!! Its geared to influences and representation of gender roles, and how cultural icons such as the roles in Disney films imprint on us from the very beginning. She wants be to write the entire thing. Ahh!!! My only concern is Disney throwing a hissy fit, but worst comes to worst, she can deal with that in LA (as horrible as that sounds). The other section is on what it is like in the current workplace now that there are 4 generations working in it: The Silent Era, the Baby Boomers, Generation X and the Millenials. The economy is dropping, so all these generations are working at the same time with different ideals and goals. Our program is designed to pinpoint these goals and show how they can be achieved without leaving anyone out. Again, writing the whole thing myself. She is also having me redesign the website, and she says I get her style better then people she’s been working with for 5 years. Here are the main highlights of the gig: I work in her home office from about 11am-anywhere from 4-7pm. She hates mornings. I usually get there, we go over stuff, I work for a few hours, we take a tea break, talk, work a bit more. She knows I have a cold, so she brings me tea in the office, usually with a scone or chocolate biscuit. I think she is happy to have the company more then anything else. At the end of each afternoon, we walk down to the Tube station together, and she pops to the ATM next to it, and hands me cash for the day. That’s right—tax free, paid daily, cold hard in my pocket cash. Its glorious. The downsides are that she can be kind of sporadic in her timing: when I was there yesterday, she told me she was going to Oxford for a few days, and not to come in til Friday. Good, because I really REALLY need to get over this cold, and bad because its two days I’m not working. Tho I did work all weekend….ca va. She also has a hard time focusing. She repeats herself a lot, and totally pulled a Devil Wears Prada the day before last when she actually said, ‘now, where is that piece of paper I had in my hand yesterday that had the thing on it?’. Being brilliantly in sync, I knew exactly what she was talking about ;-) Overall, its fantastic, but it ends when she goes back to the States a week from Monday. And she has family stuff to do this week, which means I can’t work for her every day. The real reason I’m antsy about this is that I can’t tell my other job how available I am.
Now to the other job. I got hired with Esprit, the number one event waiting company in Britain. They work for a million different companies and events, and Christmas is crazy for them. They do holiday parties almost every day, and work everywhere from Wimbledon (did you know you can do parties there?? Like the sky box at Fenway) to private country homes to the Palace (they did the Queen Mother’s 80th birthday party. Apparently Prince Harry is a douche). The funniest story we heard was when they were telling us about their apparel requirements. Its not too bad—I have to go buy a black shirt with ¾ length sleeves and some ‘shiny polishable shoes’—but Sir Elton John hires them a lot to do his private parties, and he’ll only hire the boys. When he does, if you are assigned to serve him at the head table, they are required to wear pink hot pants, a sparkly vest, and a pink boa. No lie. We saw pictures. One of the guys at the training session almost peed himself. Anywho, we had a 5 hour long training on how to set the tables, what to do at the bar, how to serve champagne and what not to say (you can’t say ‘would you like some more?’ because that implies the person is an alcoholic. I’m totally going to screw that up), and how to set and serve at the table. These are high power hard core Brits here: we can only serve over the person’s left shoulder, then pour wine, clear, and refill water on the right hand side; we learned how to properly set the table and how to line things up evenly; and then how to serve and clear in formation and in sync. Like I said, hardcore. But the people seemed really fun and nice, and I loved everyone at the training. I’m working my first gig for them on Saturday, as long as the plague has subsided. After that, they said they have work for me every day—I just have to figure out a clear schedule with Johanna first. If not, I’ll still have almost 2 weeks before Christmas to work for them.
In other news, I am getting a room! Let's call it my Happy New Year's present. I finally found a place that works. It’s more then I wanted to pay, but the deal can’t be beat. I’m going to be living in South Kensington, off of Glouster Road. For those of you who don’t know, this is the upper crust area. There is a hotel 2 buildings down from mine that goes for ₤2,000 a night. My room is in the basement of a building with 6 other girls. We are all Bunac-ers, and all American (kinda bummed about that, but what are ya going to do). The guy who rents the rooms out is Scottish, and has a deal with Bunac. We have access to a private garden (like the one Julia and Hugh climb into in Notting Hill. It’s amazing—think Eden) and are 5 minutes walk from the Tube station, laundry mat, 24 hour Sainsbury’s aka grocery store, plus little shops and cafes. Its 10-15 minutes walk to Hyde Park, my FAVORITE part of London, and is in Zone 1 so very central. As for the money, no deposit and 28 day contracts. I can stay for a month, and if it’s too much, move out. It comes with all bills included, free wi-fi, tv, vcr, linens, utensils, pots, pans, microwave, my own mini fridge/freezer, 2 burner hot plate, kettle, and a lot of storage space. Now, ignoring the mess of the chick who lives there now, for a mere ₤440 a month in a ₤2,000 a night neighborhood, starting Jan. 5th, 2009, here is my room:
Ok, so the shower (in the back right corner, where the bathrobe is) and kitchen (bottom left corner, with the sink under the mirror) are in the room with me, and it’s about the same size as the room I had in college. The closets are on either side of where I'm standing, so it has more storage then it looks...even if it's kind of tight. Who cares? It’s a place to rest my head, store all my stuff, has a window, lets me live in a great area, and is all mine. I’d never be able to get a place without a deposit, and especially now since I’d only be able to sign a lease for a few months. I’m relatively happy about it.
As for everything else, my plan to sublet from my friend for Christmas fell through, so it looks like I’m going to be staying at the hostel. Other then the cost thing, that’s ok. I told my friends here I was moving out next month and they were all really sad. Even AJ the manager was bummed-‘I need someone to keep these yabos in line’ I think was his wording. So here I’ll stay. I’ve been paying on a weekly basis, but I need to figure out my plans soon. Christmas isn’t too bad, but if I’m here for New Years, I need to book asap. I may talk to AJ tomorrow and see if I can pay for New Year’s Eve and Day now, but the rest on a weekly basis. That’s where all my Jo money is going. I did get to set up and decorate the Christmas tree here. I’ll post a picture soon. I was pretty proud of it—for a fake tree, it looks pretty sweet.
I’m going to go take a nap and try not to hack up a lung, but I’ll write more soon. As a treat, since I don’t have to work tomorrow, I’m taking myself out tonight. In true geekdom, but at the same time for the love of, I’m going to the Waterstone Piccadilly bookstore, the largest bookstore in Europe, for the release party of JK Rowling’s Tales of the Beedle Bard. For those out of the loop, this is the book of wizarding myths left to Hermione by Dumbledore in the last Harry Potter book. JK decided to write out the whole book, and have it published. It even includes hand drawings by the author. MuggleCast, the #1 Harry Potter podcast, is hosting the party, so it should be good. I gotta figure out the buses to get back tho.
More to come, I’m sure. I miss you all, and wish I could be with you for one of my favorite times of year.