Saturday, August 28, 2004

Like Visiting an OId Friend...

I went to London today.

It was supposed to be for a TeachLondon orientation but frankly, I didn't want to go to that. So I did the "Megan's Classic London Nostalgia Tour" and enjoyed every minute of my time there. I'm sure the Londoners were a bit scared of me, as I couldn't wipe the grin off my face the entire time.

I started by taking the Tube from the train station to Chancery Lane, and heading down Gray's Inn Road to my old flat. 47 Gray's Inn Road, #6. From there I walked to the school building, finding, to my HUGE delight, that the small stationary/magazine/sandwhich/everything else shop I used to frequent is still there! Of course I went inside. From the school, I walked to Tottenham Court Road, where it intersects with Oxford Street. I took Tottenham Court to Charring Cross and walked that all the way to Leicester Square, an old haunt that is great for people watching (and movie premieres).

Near Leicester (pronounced Lester) Square is the National Portrait Gallery. I got there at opening and spent 45 minutes looking for my favorites--the portraits of Elizabeth I and the beautiful statue of Albert and Victoria.

Around the corner from the NPG, I bought a ticket for a London Bus tour and proceeded to spend the next few hours happily riding in the open-topped double decker bus, paying my respects to Big Ben, the Tower, etc.

I ended my day with a trip to Kings Cross Station, just to get a picture of that infamous little "Platform 9 and 3/4" sign. Wonderful!

I only got 2 hours of sleep last night but I did not feel tired at all--until I was on the return trip to Burnham. London was wonderful, and I fell in love with it all over again.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Good news/Bad news

The bad news first: I haven't snogged any cute British men yet.

The good news: I made it here without trouble and I love the little town I'm living in!!

Yes, I'm alive and well. After 10 years (okay, hours) on the airplane, we had a soft landing at London Heathrow. No jerking airplanes, as happened when I went to Rome a year or so ago.

I made it from Heathrow to Euston Station (to pick up my train ticket) to Liverpool Street Station to Burhnam-on-Crouch. It took a good 5 hours to do all of this but I made it, had my shower, a meal and 11 hours of sleep. Jet lag stinks.

Yesterday I went exploring and found that Burnham is as charming and beautiful as I hoped it would be. Met some people at the school and I think I'll be happy working there.

Today I'm more jet-lagged than yesterday, so I'm sticking close to home. The people I'm staying with are letting me use their computer so I can check email, etc.

My adventure is well and truly started...

Saturday, August 21, 2004

If you hear screaming...

...know that everything is okay. I'm just having a packing meltdown.

How is it I've grown so attached to shoes? SHOES, for cryin' out loud!! And clothing. I swear, I've weeded a few thousand items of clothing out of my closet to take to Goodwill, and yet, I have a few thousand items to cram into two suitcases. At this rate I'll have to wear 3 tops, two pairs of pants, a cardigan and a jacket on the airplane.

But just try making me leave one item of clothing behind.

In the awesome news category, I have a place to stay when I get there. I'll be renting a room from the school's librarian. She has cats and dogs. I can be very happy with cats and dogs. She called yesterday and sounds like a very nice person...she's even picking me up at the station when I arrive in Burnham so I won't have to haul 3 tons of clothes and shoes through the streets, looking for her home.

So, things are coming together. Even the packing, really. I have one suitcase crammed full (and it's still under 70 pounds, the weight limit), and I think I'm going to be able to sort everything out in my remaining suitcase and carry-on.

Two days. ;)

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Counting Down

So, today, I heard from a lady at my new school. Apparently, I'm going to have a place to stay when I get to town. Yay! Big relief. I'll rent a room from the school's librarian to start, and if that can turn into a long-term thing, great. If not, I'll find something eventually. But it's nice to know that I will have somewhere to go when I get to a few days.

I can't believe it's actually near. When I got the job (something like 8 weeks ago), I felt like I had all the time in the world to get ready. I didn't. It has flown by. I've tried to spend time with friends and family, to do things to get ready. I feel like I still have a million things to do and not enough time...but it will get done and I'll find myself on that airplane, headed to London.

Monday, August 16, 2004

One Week


I can hardly believe that I have one week left until I leave...provided my entry visa, work permit and passport are returned soon. If not, I may have to delay my departure by a few days. : (

But, it's been a coupla weeks (as of Thursday) since I sent my info to the British Consulate for my entry visa, so I'm sure I shouldn't worry. But I will anyway. That's just my nature.

I'm still excited. I have been packing a little bit today. Turns out I have a lot of stuff I want my parents to ship to me--like 200+ CDs. Just try making me leave any at home! It's like my shoes. I have some wierd sort of attachment to my "stuff."

Had a great birthday--Mom and Dad took me out to dinner on Thursday--Mexican food! On Friday, my friends Sarah and Summer and Katie accompanied me (along with Sarah's little girl, Julia) to Streets of London, an authentic English pub in downtown Sacramento. Cider on tap!! Not in a bottle...oh, heaven. I haven't had cider from a tap in over 5 years. Guess where I was last time?

So, this week will be busy, busy, busy. Got to spend time with friends and family, continue packing, clean my room so that the parents aren't stuck with all of my junk everywhere...

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Queen for a Day

It's my birthday! Pardon me while I act obnoxious and insist that everyone call me "Your Highness." It's a Leo thing.

So, there's just a mere week-and-a-half seperating Her Royal Leoness from England. I'm actually getting excited now. I have found a choir to join, and one of the members has corresponded via email with me already.

I'm going to live in a gorgeous town, where the weather is on average about 30 degrees cooler than the nastiness I live in right now, and there is a choir I've pretty much been invited to join. And all of this is happening in one fantastic country, England! Oh, and it's my birthday. : )

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

How can I not be excited?

I have found some pics of Burnham that I hadn't seen before. It looks beautiful! I can't wait to see the real thing.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

*Pant* *Huff*

Good grief, this is getting outta hand!

I've been making a scrapbook since I was initially offered the England job. Pictures of family, friends, home, hobbies, etc. It started out as something I could look at when homesick and is quickly turning into my life story.

I have it before me now, as I've been typing up little captions and descriptions to glue on the pages next to the photos. This book now contains 9 pages of pictures of my parents, and 7 pages of the beloved feline, Millie. I have designed pages for pictures of friends--and I don't even have pictures to put in yet! I figure I'll get those before I go and then just quickly glue them in.

There are pictures of me as a little girl, pictures of me growing, and recent pictures of me. This book chronicles a few hundred different hair styles and colors, fashion statements (and faux pas) and major events in my life (graduation, holidays, my first legal margarita...).

I have put maps of where I live, pictures of my hometown, and postcards of California in this book--to show the Brits who will invariably ask that I actually live quite far from an actual beach. And they'll ask. They did 5 years ago. I printed out the lyrics to what I consider my theme song--"Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)" by Train.

This book contains so much of who I am. The place I call home. The people who make it home. I'm sure it will be an important memento to me as I make a new life in England this year.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Fifty Bucks Richer

Go me.

Well, finally had that garage sale today. I didn't make a lot of money but I guess 50 bucks isn't something to spit at, either. That will buy more of those awesome little vaccuum bags for my suitcase--the ones that shrink down so that you have a brick of clothing. Good times--that way I can take all of my shoes! : D

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Now I wait

Wait, wait, wait.

I hate waiting!!!

As stated in my last post, my work permit arrived via Fed Ex on Tuesday morning. Tuesday afternoon I sat down and started filing online for my entry visa. I got through the whole long process, aswering questions like "parents full names?" and "expected income in Britain?" and "How many pimples do you currently have?" (okay, that last one...they didn't ask).

Then, finally, I was finished. I read the instructions carefully. "Print out your application and send it in with your original work permit, original (not copy) passport, proof of citizenship, letter of leave from your job, bank statements for the last three months, eye of newt, hair of witch, 6 oz. of soil from your backyard and a sample of your own DNA (please, no spit)."

I completely freaked out. Eye of newt? Witch hair? Easy. I've read the Harry Potter series. But some of the other things they were asking for...what the hell do they mean by "letter of leave?" I completely left my former job!


I decided the only course of action was to print out my completed application, pluck a few hairs for that DNA sample, and dig my passport out. But wait--the application would not print. It just would not print. The computer, I'm sure, stuck it's tongue out at me. I could hear the motherboard laughing at me.

So I printed a blank application, made a long list of questions to ask the Consulate when I called them, fought back the tears of frustration, and had a bath.

Wednesday morning I called the Consulate office in LA first thing. Turns out I only need to send in my passport and work permit. No need to send in a hand-filled application, as I'd already filed online. Well, at this point, I'd already hand-filled the whole application, so I sent that too. I dragged myself to Mailboxes Etc. and sent the whole lot of it out, in an overnight Fed Ex.

It is now out of my hands. : ) I did my part, now I wait.

Did I mention I hate waiting?


Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Wow...24 hours of developments

So many developments in my preparations yesterday. First and foremost, I got my schedule of classes. I'll be teaching levels 7-10 (about the equivelent of grades 6-9 in the US), but I haven't figured out if that's band or what because the guy that does schedules replied to my question with "What is band?"

Okaaay. So obviously not a musician.

Then, I went to Target with my parents and they bought me some luggage. I have luggage but I wanted bigger luggage. I have a lot of clothes (and shoes!!) to tote to England. God forbid I not have my sassy black heels for nights out on the town, or my beloved Mudd (butt-kickin') boots, or my Nikes for working out. And God forbid I leave home without 5 pairs of slacks, a bunch of skirts, or my collection of Snoopy socks (which are now stuffed in shoes to help retain the shape).

In an attempt to take the most possible clothing, I bought those air-tight vacuum bag things. I stuffed abou 17 sweaters into the largest one, vacuumed the air out (it's really fun, actually) and sealed it off. It's now a large brick of sweaters. The smaller bags don't have the valve for the vacuum cleaner. Those ones you roll, expelling the air through a little flap at one end that doesn't let air back in. I found it's really fun to sit on them. : )

So the packing has started. So has the weeding. Turns out that garage sale I posted about below is this coming weekend, which gave me a lot more time to cull out clothes that I've "shrunk" out of. It's amazing, the sweaters I wore most of last winter now look like tents. I'm not complaining, mind you. Little Miss Shopper has replaced those with more fitted sweaters that showcase the leaner arms and torso she now sports (watch out, England, here comes a leaner, cuter, flirtier Meg and she's ready to take on your men!!).

The last bit of development is that I've been getting more correspondense from the people at St. Peter's High School. I even got the number to contact the Deputy Head Teacher to ask about rooming arrangements. I guess she knows who has rooms, etc. I'll be calling her soon.

Oy vey! New development in the last 2 minutes! While I was typing the above, a lady in a Fed Ex uniform walked up to the door and she held my long-awaited, much-needed work permit!! Strains of the Hallelujah Chorus are drifting through my head. Off this little paper goes to the Consulate in L.A. Big relief! I go then, to apply for my visa. : D

Monday, August 02, 2004

Look up "stress" in the dictionary...

...and there's a picture of me. : O

Well, actually, I'm feeling better this morning.

See, I need an entry visa before I leave for England. To get the entry visa, I need my work permit. My work permit is being handled by TeachLondon. It's not here yet. I leave three weeks from today--and I still need to get that visa...

Yes, last night was fun. I took a bubble bath to keep calm.

So with all this extra energy (that's what I call my stress), I got up early this morning and called TeachLondon. Turns out, my work permit just arrived to TeachLondon from the agency that does them (YAY!!!) and they will be Fed Ex-ing it immediately (Double YAY!!!).

I'm a lot less stressed now than I was but I still had enough energy to clean the bathroom, dust my bedroom and do a bunch of laundry...all before 9:00.

So there's a happy ending. I won't have to frantically drive to the British Consulate in L.A. to get it taken care of in one day--I can mail it and sit at home, eating chocolate and watching "Bridget Jones' Diary."

And yes, it really is three weeks from today.

Cheers, Meg