File #18: You Da Ant!

Hi-ho readers,

Late, late, I know. But I’m here now and isn’t that all that matters?

Also, title from the best podcast I listened to this week which was Pop Culture Happy Hour’s “Cultural Anniversaries and Great Things for Kids” — which talked extensively about the movie Antz.

The week had its highs and lows. On Monday night I had the privilege of seeing Swan Lake at the Royal Opera House, which was wonderful. What I realized while watching it was that I do not really know the plot of Swan Lake. We had to ask the lady sitting next to us what was going on in the first act. I admit that one of my favorite things about being in a city with a very active performing arts culture is dressing up and seeing things, even if I’m in the cheap seats. Also this statue is my new girlfriend.

On Tuesday I had a fun situation — I was let out of work an hour early to go pick up some stuff at the Primark on Oxford Street for a shoot we had the next day. I walked to the Liverpool Street station from my office, and very quickly realized that I had no money whatsoever, that I had not topped up my phone and not only had no data but no minutes, and that I did not know the PIN to my credit card. I, of course, panicked. I finally found free Wi-Fi and called my mother while crying and saying that “I’M NOT CUT OUT FOR CITY LIFE” which of course isn’t true. Everything was fine afterward. Minus a comical situation in which I put 20 pounds into the Oyster card machine in the station and I didn’t tap back in quickly enough for the transaction to complete. The guy behind me in line was being really impatient but the machine wasn’t giving me back my money. I tapped at another machine and the transaction hadn’t gone through, so I worried that I had lost twenty pounds so I went to the help desk. I start telling a TfL worker what’s happened and all of a sudden I hear the coin return in an Oyster machine dispensing coins for WAY longer than normal. I whip around and see the guy that was behind me in line making a break for it with cupped hands — my money! I tell the TfL worker that I think the man has taken my cash and he starts laughing and gives me a full refund. Bless the kindness of strangers.Also, something funny happened in Primark — I’ve found that children here tend to be mature beyond their years in many situations. I suppose it’s an effect of city life. But I was waiting in line for the checkout and I waved a tiny toddler girl in a stroller and she just gave me the most adult, pursed lips, “get-away-from-me” smile. It was so funny that I started laughing out loud and I definitely got looks. I was feeling relatively unstable from the events of the day and this didn’t help.

Wednesday involved the most public transportation I’ve had to deal with in my time here. I had a shoot in Croydon (on which I was the art director!), a suburb south of London, so I had to take the commuter train out from Victoria station pretty early in the morning. I have not taken a commuter train in the UK since the 8th grade, and I was with my father who understood how they worked. I did not realize that to get off the train at your stop there is a button you must press to get off at your stop. So, the doors did not open, and I was trapped on the train. This provoked some panic because I was already cutting it close and I didn’t know how far away the next stop was from my final destination. It turned out it wasn’t very far, so I called a cab and they drove me to the shooting location. I also got some interesting trivia about the area from the driver and he drove me to an ATM so I wouldn’t fall victim to foreign fees on my card. People who aren’t from the city are oddly courteous and I’m not used to it.

I got to the shoot and 15 minutes later, while I was eating a croissant, one of my supervisors told me I had to go back into the city, to our office, to get a tripod and bring it back. So that was another ordeal all together…but I did make a dent in my podcast listening. It was a weird day to say the least. That night I passed out at 8 PM and woke up the next day at 7:45. Recommended adult behavior.

On Thursday the regular work grind was vastly improved by Melanie and Liza (my friends from high school) and Dale (my choir director and mentor from high school) meeting me for lunch  near my office! It was so good to see them and have a taste of home (and of course gossip about certain topics). I had breakfast at 1 PM which was ideal. That night I went to the Philharmonia Orchestra at Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Center by myself, which I treated as a date. I got myself a gin and tonic and made a lady take the below picture of me on the balcony. I was especially excited to see the Philharmonia because they were being conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy, a pianist and conductor that my dad had us listen to a lot as kids. He conducted several Sibelius pieces, which were all wonderful. My favorite was “The Swan of Tuonela” from the Lemminkäinen Suite.

Also, I think my favorite view in London is that from the right-hand side Golden Jubilee Bridge near the Embankment tube station. Hands down.

On Friday I lived vicariously through my friends in Emerson House at Wheaton for room selection, and I have a lovely single with TWO WINDOWS and a view of the Dimple. Ideal room situation. I am incredibly excited for next year (and also terrified).

On Saturday I lazed about and then went to the Natural History Museum (finally!) for about 45 minutes before the amount of children and tourists gave me a headache and I went home and took a nap while watching The X-Files. Jillian, Becca, and I went to a club called Cargo in Shoreditch that night which was…good fun. Will not expound further.

And Sunday was cleaning, cooking, laundering, etc. I finally have groceries now which I did not for some time because I didn’t have time to go to the store.

Things I Read and Liked This Week

Containment” by A. E. Stallings
This series from kuš! of Latvian artists invited to draw comics of works of art in the Latvian National Museum of Art
This great interview on Here’s the Thing (Alec Baldwin’s podcast) with Roz Chast (my favorite New Yorker cartoonist)
This piece of Wheaton history about a FLYING CLUBAnd that’s the week that was!
Emily

P.S. word of the week: “ta!”

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