I've got about one month left. Whew.
In the six weeks I've been here, I've experienced a whirlwind of shenanigans that have led me on a path of self discovery, independence, and a whole mess of awkward in between.
June 22: The Madness Begins
The summer festival I've been working on has been an incredible experience, although it couldn't have started out worse. Mother Nature must have felt like a real bitch that day, because she had nearly every element working against us that day. Not only had we realized the day before that our posters had a typo on them which placed our biggest act on the wrong day. So my boss woke me up early the next day and asked that I change 500 handbills by that afternoon. When Molly and I arrived at the festival, we were greeted by fierce wind and a light drizzle. We tried to stay positive and upbeat, but we had a lot of things working against us. We had 2 different types of acts performing that day-An award winning 30 girl gospel choir and a Mediterranean style band. Our sound technician was on edge because of each act had a sound check very different from each other, and we had a limited amount of time to accomplish both before the outdoor lunchtime performance was supposed to begin. Because of the wind and drizzle, we consulted Rob (another one of our bosses), and he suggested that we move the equipment and canopy tent to another quieter area of the business park. So we lost 30 minutes to move everything and had to start over, behind schedule. Just when we think that everything is looking up, the wind starts to blow harder and harder and the raindrops get bigger and bigger. We are close to being ready for the choir to do their sound check, when I see Molly coming out of the theater where the choir was staying out of the rain. She had been putting up with their director all morning, and as she came toward me she gave me the worst news: The fire alarm had gone off and the children had to stand in the rain. They now wanted to leave without performing, and our boss was nowhere to be found. The rain was picking up even more, and the wind blowing harder in our faces. People asked if I had been crying because I was soaking wet. By the time we found our boss, we had already made the call to cancel the festival outdoors. We let the children and band perform inside the theatre, but sadly they didn't have an audience. It was a learning day, and we figured out a lot from that awful day about how the rest of the festival was supposed to go.
At the end of the day, every experience is valuable, and this job isn't meant to be easy-but it has been worth it. I've also learned (the incredibly frustrating way) that you may not always get recognized for the work you do, and quite often people will take credit for your work whenever they can. Sadly, that realization reminded me of my insane Management Professor's words, "A great manager takes all the blame and gives all the credit."
The festival has indeed picked up and gotten considerably better from this very terrible starting point, and each day gets easier and easier. I can only accept that working with nature is a struggle, and the only actions I can control are my own. On the positive side, this festival has also given me the opportunity to practice deep breathing, something aerobic exercise has not done well to train me.
June 24-28: Ausfarht to Germany
On the third day of the festival, I left the program up to Molly and hopped a plane to visit my sorority sister Mindy in Siegen, Germany. This was a personal triumph, as I was supposed to visit Germany about a year ago to see my boyfriend abroad. Sadly, that didn't quite work out, but fate brought me there anyhow. When I finally got there, it was surreal. Germany is a beautiful country, and luckily I got to see the countryside on our hour long drive home. Mindy and I started our party right away, eating chocolate and drinking wine. That night, we went to a club named "Plan B", which incidentally turned out to be a great initial plan. I danced with a French guy and was able to tell him that my name was Kelly and I studied art in London, all en francais! We stayed out until 5am, and I had a deep conversation with Mindy's Colombian friend Ricardo. What we talked about, I'm not too sure, but I do know I told him that all I wanted in life is security. It was very deep...?
The next night was even more ridiculous that the last. Apparently they're trying to popularize American football in Siegen, and Mindy is now on the pom squad for their team. So after a long awkward start to the party where only half the guests spoke English, the football team rolled in and the party heated up quickly. Several drinks later, I found myself being very social and giggling at the huge men practicing their English with me. At one point, someone poured me a large glass of straight vodka, added a splash of orange juice and called it a screwdriver, and I made myself some "gine," a winning gin+wine combo. That should give you a good idea of how well the evening went. At the end of the night after Mindy had gone to bed, I was seeing our guests out the door when someone told me that 5 of Mindy's friends expected to spend the night there. We had one extra mattress, and I had no idea what to do. I don't speak German, and I was very concerned about where to put them. By the time I had turned around, one girl had put on her pajamas and climbed into the extra bed and two of the guys had laid out sleeping bags and plugged in their phones. I was in no state to handle much else, and so I left them to sleep, and when I got up they were gone. All in all, it was a ridiculous night.
One of my biggest fears in going to Germany was that the language barrier would be too substantial and I'd be lost in a place where I couldn't figure out how to get home. Luckily for me, my sweet southern accent was attractive to the grunting linebackers & foxy foreigners. Like Blanche says in 'A Streetcar Named Desire,' "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers." If she thought she had it rough, she should've tried talking to German football players.
The next night, Mindy and I visited one of her friends who only spoke minimal German and Spanish. After a bottle of wine, we ended up laughing at each other for a solid 15 minutes and imitating funny noises and gestures. I tried very hard to do a dipsnap, but my failure kept him entertained for an hour. I guess my default of embarrassing behavior worked out once again. We couldn't communicate any other way, but at least this way everyone was at ease. What can I say, humor is a common language.
On a final note, I would just like to say that old German men shouldn't be allowed to wear bike shorts. SMH.
June 28-July 10: WHAT IS GOING ON???
This has been a weird few weeks. Molly and I have been so busy with the festival and running around London, but we've definitely had our share of odd times. On July 1, Molly and I declared 'Hipster Saturdays', where we put on ridiculous outfits that don't match and make us look stupid. We were asked for directions that day, and a hot guy hit on me and complimented my outfit. I actually told him I was dressed that way as a joke, and I was shocked when he told me how the sloppy look 'worked for me.' It was awful, but it just reaffirmed our theory that you can literally wear anything and people will think you look okay.
We saw a version of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' that was set in 1950's America, only instead of fairies, Oberon and Titania were aliens. It's fine, this kind of thing happens all the time here. Hearing brits imitate American accents was awesomely hilarious, and though it was supposed to be a 'B' movie type production, it had some very eccentric script changes. For instance, Puck snorted cocaine on stage. Why not? The real fault of the production was that it had about 3 logical endings and went on about 40 minutes longer than it should've. But theatre is an amazing experience, and I loved going to this fun show.
Though children and dogs are often seen out and about in London, I believe there are limits to where and when they should be around. For instance, Molly and I passed a homeless man who had a rottweiler sitting in his lap with a pacifier in the dogs mouth. There were also children walking in the streets and people pushing baby buggies and walking children around at 11 at night. PUT YOUR CHILDREN TO BED, LONDONERS! And though I never thought I'd say this, but HOMELESS MAN, THAT DOG IS NOT A BABY.
As we were going into a bar last night, the bouncer asked for our ID's. He took a long look at my driver's license, and asked "Is that really you? Looks like you lost weight." Thanks, d-bag.
In Shoreditch, we went to this club called "Plastic People". I've never seen so many people dancing awkwardly and listening to such awful music in my life. At one point, a guy just rubbed his ass all over mine, and I couldn't tell if that was intentional. There was a legitimate question as to whether or not we were at a gay club or not. There wasn't a rhythmic dance move in the whole club, and there weren't any lights in this basement of a club. Definitely supes awks.
But what am I missing out on at home?
I do get homesick every once in a while, and it's the little things I miss the most. If I could see a man in a stetson or taste the rightful 23 flavors of a Dr. Pepper, I would probably do a backflip. I also never expected I would miss hearing country music on the radio, but I found myself shuffling through my T-Swift and Garth Brooks. The 4th of July was a rough day, since my family always has such a great time together. I missed them a lot, and it felt weird not to be celebrating with my friends and hearing my mom sing against the symphony my dad was directing.
London has gotten easier to navigate, but I miss driving my car and not being dependent of public transportation. To cope with the buses and tubes, I have constructed these rules for using public transport-
The Tube Commandments
10- Thou shalt open doors when necessary and with appropriate knowledge. I'm so sick of people not knowing how to open the damn train doors. The first time I pushed somebody out of the way to open the doors to the overground, I knew I could handle this city.
9- Thou shalt not make out on the tube. Seriously, I am so sick of watching people make out. Go be happy somewhere else so that I don't have to look at you.
8-Thou shalt not attempt to ride a train whose doors are closing. The tube comes every 3 minutes. If you can't wait that long to get on a train that isn't already packed with sweaty people, then you deserve to look stupid getting smashed in the doors.
7-Thou shalt not take up more space than necessary. Do you really need to spread your bags out all over the train around you to keep an eye on them? No. Just get out of my way.
6-Thou shalt keep thy children, ipods, and voices quiet. Public transport is a seriously viable form of birth control. Toddlers with British accents are adorable, but screaming is something that makes me want to get hit by the bus I'm riding. As for ipods and noisy passengers, if you can't hear yourself think over your own music or voice, SHUT UP AND TURN DOWN THAT MUSIC. (it's official, I'm 70 years old.)
5- Thou shalt make eye contact sparingly before 10pm. If you look at me on the tube, I will assume you are creepy and are on your way to a psychiatric appointment. I mean, I'm hot and really awesome, so I can't blame people when they stare, but seriously, stop it. Wait til I've been drinking and I don't mind so much.
4-Thou shalt sit only in seats. I saw this one girl sitting next to the door of the tube. What a tourist loser. If there aren't any seats, you stand. You're fine. Get over it. Stand up.
3- Thou shalt look forward, not down. STOP RUNNING INTO ME, CLUMSY LONDONER! I FINALLY KNOW WHERE I'M GOING, NOW LET ME GET THERE!
2- Thou shalt stand on the right side of the escalator and let other pass on thy left. This is an actual rule for the tube so that people can get wherever they're going at their own pace. When people screw this up and stand where I want to walk, it really gets under my skin. ( This also goes back to commandment 7)
1-Thou shalt get the hell out of my way. GTFO, MOFO'S!