I ran a 5K…and survived!

•December 14, 2009 • Leave a Comment

A few months ago my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer.  After receiving this news I felt the need to do something, I really wanted to immediately hop on a plane and fly to Florida to be with her, but I quickly realized how unrealistic this was and tried to find another way to help.  After seeing about a million different ads in and around the tube station for different charity events I decided to do some investigating.  I came across the Adidas Women’s 5K and was immediately hooked in.  Basically this run was to raise money for many different charities and I was able to choose the one I wanted to sponsor.

I worked very hard to get to be in the right physical condition to complete this race in a time I felt was a triumph.  Many days I literally had to talk myself into my running clothes and out of the house to train.  By the time of the race I was feeling very excited and confident that I would actually be able to run the entire race.

Just before the race started the group I decided to support, The Breast Cancer Campaign, sent me some “extra props” to go with my already very pink running vest.  They called us the Guardian Angels, here is a pic of me with my halo.  The entire experience was inspiring and wonderful and I am so proud I was a part of a large group of women making a difference!IMG_2021

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I’m sorry to my readers…I fell off the boat but I’m back now!

•September 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

London has taken me on quite a ride the 7 months I have been here.  Honestly I think I have felt every emotion one person can about a city.  Its definitely taught me a lot about myself, to always trust my instincts and how much I can handle when faced with adversity.

This particular blog may turn into a bit of a mish-mash, but its so I can catch up and get back on track!  The last few month have been filled with crazy stories, strange events, new found friendships and a lot of work.  I have decided to keep under my contract so I will not be discussing work via a public website.  In case you would like to know anything I am happy to talk to you in person.

The MOST bizarre, crazy, insane piece of news actually has to do with the place I USED to work.  When I first started there my first thought was, “ok so everyone is a giant asshole but I will do my best to make some extra cash before I move on”.    I AM SOOO GLAD I MOVED ON!  It turns out the guy I was working for was one giant shady son of a bitch.  For more information please read the following articles :

http://www.thecnj.com/camden/2009/073009/news073009_11.html

https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/world/2009/07/435375.html

YES i did work at Bar Solo, NO I had no idea this was happening and YES I would have gotten the hell out of there much sooner if I knew!  I would like to also take this moment to express to you who think I may exaggerate a bit, I TOLD YOU, I TOLD YOU, I TOLD YOU my first 4 months here were completely fucked up and I meant it!  I know there are times where I am known to tell a tall tale or two, but the beginning of my London experience was all truth.  Thank you crazy Inverness St. bar raids to at least half prove that point!  Either way after hearing the entire story I felt such a feeling of relief that I had left just before the madness.

Moving right along the last few months have been filled with a multitude of other madness and fun that i never expected.  In mid July I was able to go home to Chicago for the first time since Feb, and I’m happy to say it helped me gain perspective and a new appreciation for my decision to move.  I love Chicago, I love my family there, I love my friends but I am happy to be here learning new things because I know they are there for me when I am ready to return!

Days after returning home from Chicago I became very very ill.  Honestly it came out of no where, one night after work I started to feel very achy and soon after going to bed I woke up with a very high fever.  Being me however I was still determined to go to work  but around noon I just didn’t have the energy to lift my head so I had to go home.  On my way I called the doctors office to make a quick appointment and get some meds to feel better.  They went into reaction mode immediately telling me I had symptoms of flu and should under no circumstance come to the office.  Also I was told I needed to call the national pandemic hotline to go through a series of questions to determine if it was the dreaded SWINE FLU!  After all the questions they told me it was likely to be swine flu and they prescribed me Tamiflu to help get rid of it.  The problem was I was required to have a “flu buddy”  well I don’t have a flu buddy or any other kind of buddy for that matter.  At least not any that I am willing to bother to go get me medicine I was perfectly capable of getting on my own.  Apparently that could not happen though, I need to quarantine myself asap and beg and plead with the hospital to have the medicine sent over in order to get it.  Finally they agreed and showed up in an ambulance about an hour later with the Tamiflu.  After taking the meds I cannot decide if it was worse to have Tamiflu or have Swine flu.  The medicine made me even more ill, ever time I tried to eat something it made me violently ill and I completely lost my appetite after that. After 7 days of sleeping literally all day long, I finally felt well enough to go to work.  I’m happy to say I am completely recovered and feel so much better.

Well those are the few very crazy, strange and disturbing events that have happened in the last month and a half.  Now on to the random encounters with people I had never met before.  A little over week I met a really cool Aussie guy, who said ” I don’t know anyone in this city will you show me around while I’m on holiday here?”  Normally I would laugh at such a ridiculous line and say no thanks but this time I decided well I don’t have too many people to hang with so why not!  So I met up with him after work at a bar around the corner.  Amusingly enough he had found a few other Americans while waiting for me and started up a conversation with them.  They were a pretty cool couple from NYC and I found myself answering a lot of questions about where to go, what to see, what do locals do, etc.  So of course I found this to be an opportunity and decided to show them around Camden.  It was actually kinda cool to be  a pseudo-tour guide even if it was just for a few hours.

Well for now thats a good catch up….Check back soon there is a lot going on!

First experience with the NHS

•June 25, 2009 • 1 Comment

I’m not going to lie, I was nervous to go to the doctor in a a different country.  First and foremost I really really don’t like going to the doctor and have been an expert at avoiding it since i was a little kid.  Second in the States all you hear are mixed emotions about National health care and how it can’t be as good because the doctors aren’t paid as much, etc.

Well after suffering through the major part of allergy season I was forced to go see someone.  My hay fever got so bad i literally couldn’t hear through my right ear, which was very scary.  I spent last week at work saying “WHAT??” to just about everyone I was meant to check in.  This is when I knew I really didn’t have a choice.  So on my first day off I hopped on the net to find out where I need to go.  Interestingly enough you actually go to the places that are closest to you, which meant I had to walk around the block and i was there.  

After filling out the paperwork as a new patient and signing up for the NHS, I was asked to sit down  at a computer station which conducted the regular nurse type tests you would expect to go through.  Except I did all of the tests on my own, I weighed myself, took my own blood pressure and filled in an extensive questionnaire.  Once all of this was taken care of I was able to make a walk in apt with the doctor on call.  

While I was sitting in the waiting room I realized how alike it was to being in Oswego at the doctors office, or at least when I was still a resident there.  You could feel the community setting, it was nice to see people greeting people they knew and doctors knowing the patients that were coming in to see them.  All in all the entire experience was just like being in the States.  I was rushed through the actual visit, handed a prescription for a steriod nasal spray and sent on my way.  Not too bad considering my initial concerns!

What’s FREE for me?

•May 31, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This weekend has turned out to be beautiful, honestly I really couldn’t have asked for a better weekend to just relax and enjoy the sun and other secrets London has for me to discover.  My main goal this weekend was to find things to do that were fun but didn’t put a dent in my wallet as many fun things seem too.

On Saturday I had a bit of a late start, I mean my horoscope said if I felt like taking it easy I should so I was slow moving.  Once I was out and about I decided to stop by the Tower of London and finally pick up my membership card to some of the more historic places in London.  I got it a few months ago on my birthday as a present for myself to enjoy a few really interesting places I want to see, as well as have a free pass to the Tower whenever I feel the need to go ( as it is my absolute favorite place in London!)

 Anyway after picking up my official membership card I decided to head on over to Kensington to see the famous Kensington Palace.  The nice thing about this palace is that it is actually situated right in the middle of a huge park, where everyone seemed to be yesterday.  Kensington Palace itself is a lot smaller than I expected but it was done really well and it had some interesting exhibits going on.  I was able to see some of Princess Diana’s famous dresses and other ensembles as well as an entire exhibit dedicated to the last Debutantes Ball in England.  The dresses and invitations and events, it was all so wonderful it made me want to go to a big ball in a big fluffy dress!  Afterwards I enjoyed the beautiful day by sitting on the grass with a million other people and staring at the lake.  It was such a perfect day outside it was hard not to just waste away in the sun.  On my way home I found where the new temporary stage has been assembled in the middle of the park to hold Peter Pan for the summer.  That of course is on my list for non-free London activites.

Sunday was another wonderful day outside so this time I found a free event that I really really wanted to see.  When I was young my brother started ready a lot of Roald Dahl books in his 2nd grade class.  I also was a Roald Dahl fan, mostly because of  James and the Giant Peach.  Well being such a big fan, I was thrilled to find out there was a temporary exhibit at the Museum of Childhood called  Snozzcumbers and Frobscottle!  Basically it was all about some of the most famous Roald Dahl books so I just had to go see it.  Especially because it was the perfect edition to free weekend, considering I could see the entire museum for free.  Just in case you are in London and want to see it: http://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/  It was also really fun to see a bunch of toys that I played with as a kid and I know I had from when my mom was a kid.  Including: Masters of the Universe, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Slyvanian Families, Care Bears, American Bear Company bears, etc.  It was such fun to wander around and remember all of the great times I had as a kid and look forward to all of the future kids in my life.

More Holiday coming but first…

•May 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Work has started and I am really excited that my first week has been such a treat.  Its really nice to be back in the saddle and feel like things are progressing forward.  The only problem that  I have been running into within the last few weeks is the lack of internet (at least the working kind) at my new flat.  I have soooooo much to update and deal with and I have found myself in every cafe and sandwich shop to try and do so.  Apparently the internet does exist, but I just cannot seem to get on using the username and password that my landlady gave me.

As soon as I do have internet I will definitely be making a big effort to update all of my daily experiences.  For now I am happy to say I am alive and things seem to be moving forward.  Fingers crossed it will stay that way until move back to the States.  XO for across the pond!

Visiting Bruges

•May 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

In passing I had heard that Bruges was a really cool part of Brussels.  While planning our trip through Brussels and The Netherlands I decided to throw it in.  Even if there was absolutely nothing to do here at least we could start out in a nice relaxing place.

I booked us a room in the Boathotel De Barge, which literally was a room on a boat.  I know it sounds a bit cheesy or maybe a bit cheap but it was neither.  It was a really great hotel, just outside of the main area which kept the need for quiet at our fingertips.  Heres a pic from our room: 100_1882Life vests and all we had a great time on this boat, plus we had a lovely breakfast every morning.  Chcck out their website in case you ever make it to Bruges http://www.hoteldebarge.be/

Bruges itself was fantastic, how can you not love a picturesque town packed to the brim with little chocolate shops and outdoor dining?  Not to mention the swans, which hold a really interesting legend: “In 1488 the people of Bruges had executed one of the town administrators belonging to the court of Maximilian of Austria, husband and successor of duchess Mary of Burgundy. The town administrator was called ‘Pieter Lanchals’, a name which means ‘ long neck’. The Lanchals family coat of arms featured a white swan. Legend has it that Maximilian punished Bruges by obliging the population to keep swans on their lakes and canals till eternity.”  Yes I am always truly fascinated with legends that include beheading, not really sure why this is.  But back to the beautiful swans img_0701With all of this loveliness we found ourselves doing a lot of wandering and just enjoying the scenery.  However we did make it to the Choco-Story, chocolate museum which was interesting but didn’t involve as much tasting as I would have liked.  It was a very educational museum and would have been a lot more fun if we weren’t being followed by the most annoying family on the planet.  Rudeness is international, that is for sure!!

At least there were a lot of great things in Bruges, including flowers, chocolate and beer!!!100_1886img_0716100_1894After throughly enjoying everything we could in Bruges, we hopped on a series of trains and found ourselves in the Netherlands!

Holiday planning, Job hunting, Oh and did I mention I was moving.

•April 24, 2009 • 4 Comments

It has been one hell of a week, seriously.  I am pretty sure someone has a fast forward button and they have decided to push it this week.  2 weeks ago I quit my waitressing job, which means this was my last week of work there, THANK GOD!  I decided to quit because I moved here to be happy and well that job made me miserable to a whole new level.  Being treated like crap for little to no pay is not in my best interest.  So that was just the start of what turned into a mad whirlwind of things going on.

First, mom and I have been planning a trip to Holland for a very long time.  We were suppose to go last year but it just wasn’t in the cards, so this year we finally got ourselves organized and started planning a trip.  After a lot of deciding I planned her visit with my leaving the restaurant so that I would be done there as soon as she landed.  That plan actually worked.  Its all of the other stuff I have been wishing for that seemed to want to work out as well, all within the last week.

I would like to preface this by saying I am in no way, shape or form complaining about what has transpired in the last week, I am merely recounting the exhausting nature of them all happening at once.

Did I also mention that my lease is finally done with “the flat” ; FINALLY came early because the original tenants wanted to come back 10 days early.  Which was great until I had to start searching for somewhere to live again.  I really love living in London, don’t get me wrong but I am still really getting used to the missing creature comforts that just aren’t a part of everyday life here.  It is sooooo expensive to live in North London but i have no intention of leaving this area, its just too easy to get around and I really like the craziness that is Camden Town.  So after looking at about 15-20 flats I was able to narrow it down to 4 I felt I could live in without too much problem.  Sadly none of them will ever compare to my LA apt or my Chicago high-rise apt but well thats just how it is.

Here is a list of the places with the goods and bads:

1. 2 Br flat in Queen’s Cresent- No common area, kind of small, sharing with a girl who is completely obsessed with pink (seriously there are things I didn’t know existed in that color!), not known to be the best area.  Awesome kitchen, very tidy, perfect price.

2. Studio in Archway- New but not well done, basement, a bit dark and lonely in a studio, terrible kitchen.  Personal Garden, nice new bed, no shitty flatmates to have to deal with. Good price, maybe a bit too much.

3. 2 bed flat at the top of a Masionette, Tufnell Park- you actually walk through the house to get to the flat, super nice woman owns the house, very warm being at the top.  Tons of storage, terrible kitchen, sharing with an unknown. very cheap for the quality.  Clean and quiet.

4. 2 bed flat in Tufnell Park- living with a hot guy (yes has a girl friend), super tidy, nice kitchen, SMOKERS YUCK, way expensive, long walk to the tube.

So which one do you think I choose?

NUMBER 3, yes I am living at the very top of a really cool Masionette that was built in the late 1800s.  I have what would be consider the secret attic room and I love it.  I feel like I am in my own hideout, the only downfall is the amount of stairs, but its really fun.  And I couldn’t ask for a nicer landlady, she is perfect.

I guess the last thing to talk about then is the job front.  For a while it was looking dismal, it really is a frustrating time to be looking for work.  The recession has caused everyone to be more intent on finding “the right” candidate for the job and of course now they have the upper hand with the amount of people looking for work.  Personally I have been searching for the last 4 months without hesitation, which has produced about 200 jobs applied for to date.

One of those being the Hotel Russell, a hotel that I first ran into a few weeks after I arrived in London.  I was out one day looking for the Kinko’s to print out more CVs when I saw this grand building right in the middle of a quiet square.  It was the Hotel Russell and since that day I have wanted to work there.  Well a job opened up for a Reception Shift Leader and I immediately applied, and followed up.  Thankfully that persistence landed me an interview, which went well.  And this week, honestly the day that Mom got here, and the day I had to move, I got the second interview.  Talk about things getting all piled up.  The second interview went well and now I am just waiting to hear back. Fingers Crossed!!!

Well after a crazy week that included actually planning a holiday, I am on holiday and intend to enjoy every second.  Those blogs are one their way.