Thursday, April 28, 2011

Getting a Job in London, Part 1


I’ve been in London for quite a few months now. Every so often, someone asks how long, and I sit there like a petooty counting on my fingers. I think it’s 9. Nine months. Long enough to have a baby. Three quarters of a year. Three seasons, in a climate that actually has distinct ones. A Really Long Time.

My Grand Plan for London (which I mused about here) was to arrive. Try not to sit in a gutter with my suitcase and cry. Upon achieving that, shake myself off, get a fabulous job, and proceed to live a glamorous working London life.

Ahhh, youth. Idiot.

I’m not the most go-getter person around. I have vague ideas about what I want (to work in publishing) and no very clear idea about how to do it. I’m not a door-basher. I’m not a person that pushes in your face with persistence. I’m what’s probably best described as a … wallflower. I guess? See, can barely make a definitive statement about what I am. I graduated with a pretty ace media degree, and worked in online communications (social networking administrator/media liaison-y sort of role) for a few months while ‘saving’ to get over here. While friends from uni have been off doing cadetships at the ABC, editing journals and magazines, doing feature writing, and stamping their bylines all over national publications, I’ve been doing … not much.

In my defence, I didn’t want to start work in Sydney. The thought of settling into a career job straight out of 5 years at uni was death. I was sick of the city, sick of the people (friends excepted of course. Love ya babes, all), and sick of stagnating. So ‘going to London’ was the perfect answer to what I planned to do after graduation.

I lived off ‘getting to London’ for a damn long time. I think it paralysed me actually. I got here, and then I didn’t know what I wanted to do anymore. I’d ‘done’ what I’d been planning to do for so many months. Years even. Boom. The ‘what next’ question hovered around the periphery of my brain, occasionally becoming more persistent whenever I checked my bank account, or when my mum asked me how the job  hunt was going. In the meantime however, there were meanders to be had along the Thames, and pints and pints of beer to drink.

And then I did start trying to get a job. Let me put this out there now: I’ve never applied for a job in my entire life. Aside from a job at the newsagents when I was 15. Other than that, I’ve never had a job interview, having always fallen into things. Which was great at the time, but has since made job hunting akin to stalking Medusa to cut off her braids. Where do you even start?

Job hunting sucks. It sucks balls. At first I optimistically sent off tailored CVs and accompanying cover letter with aplomb. Who wouldn’t want to hire me? According to the deafening silence of my inbox – everybody. Not a single reply. Nada. The continuous non-rejections wore me down. Down down down until I no longer read job descriptions with hope and a vague buzz of excitement, but rather with the particular feeling of dread that comes from the fear of being invisible. Was my CV so bad? I’d worked in an interesting role. I had a variety of random skills. I had good marks at uni. Why were my applications so crap as to not even require a ‘better luck next time’ consideration email?

Eventually I settled into café work (again, another job I didn’t apply for – thanks cousin Tim for the hook up!), and then moved onto another café (amazing the friendships you can make while drunk, and where they get you). I comforted myself with the thought that I was still trying, still looking at job adverts. Just drinking a hell of a lot of lattes in the meantime. Working for £6 an hour is nothing less than soul-destroying (do the maths – stand on your feet for 8 hours, and you still don’t even get to take home a full £50).

But I had new friends, and was an expert at flinging my drunken self onto the last tube home – result! There were weekend jaunts to Edinburgh and Prague and Paris. Day trips to Bath and Bicester Village. Summer lingered, and autumn turned out to be a beautiful display of crunchy leaves and cooling breaths. Believe it or not, the novelty of mittens, a knitted scarf from Zara, and mulled wine lulled me along for another few weeks. I was experiencing London. I was enjoying myself. I was just taking another path. I occasionally applied for jobs, and I’d at least had a few interviews by this time – one with a music company to do their social network/media management side. Another with an online retailer. Each time, I pictured myself in this new employed world, with money funding my starving shoe habit, and new groups of fabulous friends that worked in ‘the media’. Finally! Back on track! Until I met a new kind of deafening silence – the post interview silence. Which does get broken, ever so politely, with rejection. Awesome. I now considered finding a job in London to be impossible. ‘It’s impossible!’ I would declare to my mother, my friends, my grandparents. ‘Over 200 applications per role! Disgraceful!’ I would whinge to my similarly struggling friends. ‘Don’t give up,’ I would whisper to my own reflection. And everyone would murmur comforting things like ‘recession’ and ‘terrible times to be a graduate’ and ‘something will turn up’. Except for my reflection, which would either give me the finger and run off, or start poking at my newly acquired, Heathrow-Injection-beer-fuelled belly.

So for a long time I felt splinched between my plan (get a job) and my new plan (forget about getting a job, have fun). In an attempt to find a common sense answer to my splinching, I did what any sensible person would do: decided to try and work for free... 




Books

Call me a nerd (do it, I don't care), but I miss my books. 
 
 And my room. I miss the coffee table Steph and I made by inflicting a massacre onto mum's old table. 
 I miss my inspiration boards, and my nook.
 But of all the books I miss - my old ones, my vintage ones, my trashy ones - the one I'm missing the most at the moment is my Norton Anthology of Poetry. You can see it's sister (Anthology of Criticism) tucked into the bookshelf below. Whether we were going waterskiing by the river, or I was just going to tan by the pool, for some reason I'd always throw the anthology in my bag along with a bunch of magazines. I liked knowing I could dip into it at random, revisit an old friend, or find a new one. Anyway, a bit random, but that's what Im thinking about - I want my old Anthology, it's weight slippery in my hands, the thin pages, carrying the weight of the Bible. Reading poetry on the computer just isn't the same.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lest We Forget

This is the first Anzac Day that I've been overseas. And while in the last few years there is no way (I'm sorry to say) that I could be dragged to a Dawn Service, it still felt strange that this year the day passed by so quietly. No plans to go to the RSL, barely sparing a moment to pause, not within earshot of a news snippet of a lone trumpeter playing the Last Post.
Photobucket
But still, this myth of Australian identity, forged out of one massively fucked up battle, on a beach in a strange land, shouldn't be forgotten, no matter what corner of the world you are in. 
Flowers for the forgotten soldier, Pere Lachaise.

Picnicking on Primrose Hill

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket
Picnic on Primrose Hill. Vintage skirt from Glebe markets. Friendship from London. Blue sky from Spring.

single in the city, yo

"You're lying in bed. There's a string of fairy lights hanging from the wall that casts a distinctly romantic glow across the room. You're thinking about how single you are. You know how single you are (which, on a scale of one to relationship, is really single) because you sleep with your MacBook on the pillow next to you."


Kat George. You sum up my life.


Being single in a big city... thank you SATC for tainting all possible reflective moments into one Carrie Bradshaw-esque self-indulgent murmur. I may not be in Manhattan, but I am in North East London. I don't have a window, and I'm craving a cigarette, but I do have a glass of red wine. My cousin's spare room is not a studio apartment, and my tights, flats and woollen cardi do not an ensemble make. BUT, it is a vast improvement on Sydney. For instance: Excluding my current glass of red wine, my last few drinks have been cocktails in Saint Germain, Paris, and bottles of Chilean white wine on a picnic blanket on Primrose Hill. Within hours of each other. While I miss evenings of Coopers Green and Pure Blonde, it makes for a nice change. A bit more of the 'city', even if it's lacking in the 'sex'.


However, being single in a big city? I sleep with my mac book next to me. I once hated the smug little glowing light fading in and out when it was on standby, back in the days when I had someone to snuggle. Or at least someone to plot some well-executed nagging at, as I thought about what I had to do the next day. Now, it's a comfort thing, those smooth plastic lines, and that pulsing glow that I can time with my breathing when I can't sleep. 


I've had some funny stories with men. Boys. Boy-men? Males? I don't really like writing them out here, because I don't know who reads it and I am the chameleon queen of self-censorship.  I've had experiences that have made me want to punch particular men, and a week later figure out a way to punch myself in the face instead (stupid, idiot girl). Ahhh, dating. Ahhh, experiences. Ahhh, that rapidly expanding memory box that I only squeak open to shove the latest 'experience' into, before slamming the imaginary lid shut with an 'Ah well' and an 'I'm never going to think about that again'. Until I can't resist telling the story to a girlfriend over a bottle of wine, laughing and nearly crying at the thought of being a future cat-lady or baby-stealer, depending on my mood. 


It's an interesting road, coming out of a long term relationship that still feels unresolved (hells, does that sentence even mean anything?!). Moving on, staying behind. Endlessly discussing and daydreaming and forgetting and remembering. Learning to let new people in, pretending to be someone else. It's weird. I'm still figuring out who I am, both in relation to, and without, that person.


Over here, there are all sorts of new kisses: the drunken, the should-have-just-stayed-friends, the dancefloor delirium, the mistakes. The down-right hilarious. The stories. The googling. The next day text messages. The hilarious breakdowns with the girls. And out of all this, I think that the best part of being 'single' in the 'city', whatever city that is, has got to be the girls. And whether they are new girls that I've met over here, or recounting to my girls back home, the serious fun of dating, and not-dating, of despairing and hoping, is sharing and laughing and crying and getting persnickettedly drunk in trying to figure it all out. So I guess I am a bit of a Carrie Bradshaw cliche after all. Groan.


*This has been a bit of an experimental post. I want to write more, and worry about not writing less. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Determined Storm

I can't remember the reference for this pic, sorry! 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Photobucket

Photobucket

Silk Zimmerman dress, H&M lace shorts, Sam Edelman Zoe boots, and a new found resolution to steer clear of extraordinarily tall basketball players.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

DrinkShopDo

Sorry it's been a while people. Sometimes I feel like I'm too busy living life to actually stop a minute and blog about it. And then there are times when I feel like I want to turn to this blog to rant and whinge and be all emotional and ... well ... emo. But then I stop myself, either from a desire to preserve the impression that I'm having So Much Fun with my life, or to prevent a whole bunch of people asking if I'm alright. Then I make up blog posts in the shower, or at work, and get home and watch The Mentalist or read a book, and poof! Weeks gone by with nary a joie de vivre post, an emo post, or a procrastination from life post.

Well that's all about to change. For a day at least. Here's a 'I did something totally fun and amazing' post. And apologies for the iphone photos.
Photobucket
Who can spot the spider? The room is huge - it was an old Victorian bath house apparently.

Photobucket

A little cafe/bar/shop that has themed knit nights, scrabble Sundays, and kitsch furniture (y'all did know I was a bit of a nerd right?). Add in some cucumber sandwiches with no crusts (Oh, Algernon!), mid-afternoon cocktails, and royal memoribilia and there's no wonder you have to book a table for this place.

Photobucket
Jo, my very lovely friend, discovered this place and we repaired there one Sunday afternoon ostensibly to play scrabble, and inevitably to drink cocktails and gossip. Having bragged left, right, and centre about this , Lucy and I popped in for Friday drinks. Without the forethought to book a table, we ended up leaning against the bar, and had a great time ogling all the amazing homemade cakes while slurring out travel and work stories over a bottle of wine.

The premise behind is brilliant because of its simplicity:

The relaxed vibe is deliberate. "I'd always dreamt of having a design shop," explains 25-year-old co-proprietor Coralie Sleap, "but in so many of those places you feel you have to be quiet and not touch. I wanted a shop where you could get drunk and make things." (see full article here).

You can get drunk and make things. And also buy things. Everything in the place is for sale, including the bar. If I had money, or a house, or even a permanent room, I would have been making off with at least a cake tray. Which would probably have been used as a jewellery holder, but hey.

Until then, I plan to take my recently re-acquired knitting skills, and hit up their Tuesday night knit-nights. Or get a bit hedonistic at the Friday night dot-to-dot disco. Google it. 


If only I could import my uni girls to London for an afternoon of dot-to-dot disco. You know who you are.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bleeding Pens - A Solution

So browsing around the interwebs, as you do, I came across this ingenious little thing - a journal bandolier! Not only does it have a dashing name, it marries together forever your pens and your journal. I totally wouldn't carry around 16 pens if I knew I had at least 4 (for different pens depending on my mood) attached to my writing contraption. 
Nifty.
Cleverhands from San Francisco, you certainly are... visit her Etsy shop.
It is National Poetry Month, and the Poetry Society (or you can follow them on Twitter) asked people to tweet the line of poetry that made them fall in love with the art. Mine was John Donne's:

That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

 - Batter My Heart, Three Person'd God. 

I picked those lines because they were the first to pop into my head, yet all John Donne's poems for me represent that moment where you realise that poetry isn't just rhymes and rhythms, limericks and funny words. It is puzzles and constraint and wonder and cleverness. Explaining The Flea to a friend while we were both somewhat under the influence is one of my best memories - the look on his face when he realised the breadth and expanse of the idea and the argument wrapped up in those lines was priceless.

Anyway, I was reading other people's tweets, and stumbled across one which lead me to this poem, for reasons obvious. And I wanted to share it, so et voila!
Perhaps the earth is floating,
I do not know.
Perhaps the stars are little paper cutups
made by some giant scissors,
I do not know.
Perhaps the moon is a frozen tear,
I do not know.
Perhaps God is only a deep voice
heard by the deaf,
I do not know.

Perhaps I am no one.
True, I have a body
and I cannot escape from it.
I would like to fly out of my head,
but that is out of the question.
It is written on the tablet of destiny
that I am stuck here in this human form.
That being the case
I would like to call attention to my problem.

There is an animal inside me,
clutching fast to my heart,
a huge crab.
The doctors of Boston
have thrown up their hands.
They have tried scalpels,
needles, poison gasses adn the like.
The crab remains.
It is a great weight.
I try to forget it, go about my business,
cook the broccoli, open the shut books,
brush my teeth and tie my shoes.
I have tried prayer
but as I pray the crab grips harder
and the pain enlarges.

I had a dream once, 
perhaps it was a dream,
that the crab was my ignorance of God.
But who am I to believe in dreams?
 
 - Anne Sexton, The Poet of Ignorance 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bleeding Pens

I always carry pens around with me - I have ink stains on the inside of every handbag, bleeding marks on headscarves that have been caught in the line of fire tumbling around whichever enormous Mary Poppins contraption I'm currently hauling around. One time I counted 16 assorted pens in my bag. By any standards, that's ridiculous. I was doing a handbag clear out the other day and I came across a heap of scrunched up papers upon which I'd scribbled random thoughts down on, so as not to forget them later. Though judging by the below samples, the so-important words are either song lyrics, shopping/to-do lists, or random scribblings of my own name.

But I never can quite bring myself to throw them out. Maybe one day I'll remember why I scribbled these thoughts down, and suddenly make sense of myself.
As for that last scribble - I know I listened to this nameless song on my ipod about 30 times over, scribbling snatches of lyrics to google and find. It is Belasco. The song is 'Walk the Moon'.

Tapping things out on the iphone just isn't the same. Though my Notes section is a delightful mishmash of recipes, addresses, club names, and drunken ramblings while at live shows. But I think I'll stick with my pens, ink stains and all. 

Again Into The Breach, I Blog

Once again, an abandoned blog... Shortly after my trip to the Rag and Bow pop up shop, my camera wound out of battery, and I was forced to acknowledge that I have a true gift for losing chargers that is matched in a perfect inverse to my ability to buy them after realising the loss. 

BUT! Today is a change. Boom, I just bought one. Thanks ebay. I feel slightly virtuous, but I think I'm only desperately trying to compensate for the fact that I'm eating brownies for dinner. And seeing as how I justified not going to the gym with my determination to write a blogpost... may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb. There's no real excuse for the vodka tonic though. That's for funsies.

So what's been happening? (And yes, a wordy wordy post with minimal pictures)

WELL - spring is starting to glimmer into London with the occasional day that is so surprisingly mild you wonder why you're carting your coat around. Though these are quickly obliterated by a day or two of rain and wind, as if Spring was the cantankerous old man who lives in the house on the corner - the one with the heart like mushy caramel, hidden over with spikes of 'hurrumphs' and grizzly stares.

I am making excited summer plans that include the words: sister, south of France, hire car, painting, tans, baguettes, Italy, Lisbon, and mix tapes. The ice tinkling merrily away in my glass is just as excited as I am (is there a better noise than ice popping? Except for pop rocks? Didn't think so).

I am doing an absolutely shit job of finishing this post. I keep getting distracted by The Hairpin.

Perhaps not such a wordy post, and one more worthy of MySpace, but hey, if I don't press 'publish post' Right This Second, I probably never will. 

Laterz.