I’ve Moved!

For more of Allison’s stateside adventures, visit http://www.pleasemindthemess.wordpress.com:)

Published in: on May 13, 2012 at 11:45 am  Leave a Comment  

What I’ve Been Up to Lately

Published in: on April 22, 2009 at 6:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Pictures I’ve Been Taking

Daffodils, they're EVERYWHERE!

Daffodils, they're EVERYWHERE!

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New Landscaping in Hyde Park

New Landscaping in Hyde Park

Pretty flowers!

Pretty flowers!

More Hyde Park

More Hyde Park

More Daffodils

More Daffodils

Serpentine in Spring

Serpentine in Spring

Serpentine

Serpentine

"Knowing" another Escape Artists production

"Knowing" another Escape Artists production

Published in: on March 29, 2009 at 5:10 am  Comments (1)  

Things I’ve Been Doing Lately

Shows I’ve seen this month:

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS– great Seymour, dissapointing Audrey.

BILLY ELLIOT– awesome dancing, although right before the interval, there was a stage malfunction, sending little Billy offstage while the tech guys dealt with the hole onstage

BLOOD BROTHERS– I had no idea what to expect but it was superb! It was hilarious, it was devestating, it was awesome!

AVENUE Q– after nearly 2 years of wanting to see this, I finally did and even though it was blissfully comical, it also had deeper themes like self-understanding and goal realization. And of course the song “What Do You Do with a BA in English?” struck a chord as well

SUNSET BOULEVARD– I have forgotten the proper term for this, but this musical was both acted and orchestrated by the same people. That is, the actors sang and played intruments on stage. It was really neat. And we met a few of the actors after the show because my friend Maggie’s teacher is in the cast.

HAIRSPRAY– I hadn’t seen the stage-version of this and was just amazed by Michael Ball’s performance as Edna Turnblatt. Michael is famous for his roles in Les Mis and Phantom, and played the role straight, rather than making it gimmicky as a man in drag. Which is what he was. But the actor who played Link had a God-awful American accent and effectively strung his lines together so we couldn’t tell his accent was rubbish. This, of course, also meant we never knew what he was saying.

WICKED– having seen this twice, once on Broadway with Kristen Chenoweth and once in SF with Eden Espinosa, I have been pretty spoiled with the show. Even though I had an open mind about it, both Maggie and I agreed that the Glinda SUCKED.

Shows I MUST see before I leave:

Spring Awakening

The Woman in Black

A Little Night Music

Oliver! (starring Mr Bean!!!!)

The Mousetrap

and I still have never seen The Lion King

Published in: on March 29, 2009 at 4:48 am  Comments (1)  
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The Verdict

In just 18 days, I will be headed back to the states. For good. And while I am sad that I will be leaving my favorite place on the planet, I am also excited for my next adventure. Whatever that is.

The original plans were for me to stay until late July, but when one of my best friends announced that she would be getting married mid-April, I knew I did NOT want to miss it. Even though I had no trouble getting back into the UK in January, there was no tellng what would happen, should I try to reenter in April. So we had a few options:

A) Wing it and hope the border patrol didn’t ask too many questions

B) Find a nice, but older gentleman who was willing to marry me for nothing but the promise of profound gratitude and legal entry to the US, or

C) Stay stateside after the wedding and transfer to the family’s house in San Luis Obispo to help with the reintegration of the animals back into the country

Despite rehearsing my “getting back into the country” speech and the submission of several personal ads, options A through B didn’t pan out. So after the wedding (despite my purchase of a round trip ticket), I will be back in SLO until I figure out where my next adventure will take me.

I admit that I am sad my time in London has come to an end, however, I am also excited to be back in the states again. As much fun as it has been to escape reality and roam an international city for 10 months, it will be nice to be back in the same time zone as most of my family and friends. I will indeed miss the people I’ve met and spent time with here, but I was going to have to leave sooner or later.

A year away from my home country has given me a deeper understanding of how my national identity affects how I act, how I speak, how I eat, and how I see myself as an individual. I am even looking forward to having my coffee orders understood and not getting odd glances when I forget discrepancies in local lingo.

**********

“I’m pissed,” I say sarcastically when an English friend apologizes for something they need not have apologized for              (typical British behavior).

“Oh…,” they say sort of surprised and awkwardly glance away as if I had just used profanity in a neither funny nor appropriate manner.

“Well, I’m not actually upset. I was kidding,” I say weakly, now actually a little pissed that I had to explain my dry sarcasm to a Brit.

“Oh, ha!” he laughs, “I thought you were declaring your inebriation.”

“At three o’clock in the afternoon?” Now I was thinking that he was just being absurd until I got a flashback from my 90’s youth: a song by Chumbawumba that tought me that “pissing the night away” referred to drinking alcohol rather than urination.

And that’s how I learned to carefully follow the words “I’m pissed” with “—–OFF.”

**********

As I draft a new life-plan nearly everyday, it would be pointless to go on about what I plan to do when I get back to SLO, or LA, or SF or NYC, or Boston, or… I think you catch my drift. So thanks for reading, and I’ll fill you IN when I figure it OUT.

Published in: on March 29, 2009 at 4:15 am  Comments (1)  
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Decisions, Decisions

The closer I get to the summer, the more questions I get about what I am going to do with my life. As of this moment, I’m not even sure I will be here much longer. Although the original plan was for me to stay until the end of July, I may go back to the family’s house in SLO as they begin the process of transitioning the pets back to the states. I will be going back to Cali in April to be in my close friend Stevie’s wedding so I might just stay in the country to avoid possible border patrol issues. All of this is still up in the air, meanwhile I’m torn on whether to go back to SLO or stay in London. Going to back San Luis Obispo is tempting because it will save me a LOT of money and offer a change of scenery. However, it will be hard to say goodbye to London, especially because I’ve been having a lot of fun the last few weeks going to shows and hanging out with friends.

But whatever happens between April and July isn’t that big of a deal. I am going to have to leave London soon anyway and I feel like I’ve conquered it as much as possible. I would have liked to have travelled more outside of the UK (I still haven’t been to Italy, Germany, Spain or Greece), but I still feel like I got to know London really well. The decisions I have to make regarding what happens to my life AFTER July are the ones giving me the most stress.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my current employer has asked that I move back to SLO with them and basically do the same thing I do now, only minus the teen-care component. It would basically be a non-job job because all I would really have to do is look after the animals (I wouldn’t even need to walk the dog because they have a big yard). It would be gainful employment, I would live rent-free and have the added bonus of living in a nice house with a home gym, pool, tennis court and a big screeen projector. The main pressing issue is: WHAT THE HECK WOULD I DO? I already have trouble filling my day living in LONDON, so what would I do in SLO day in and day out? My employer is pushing the idea of grad school, which is an idea I’m not entirely sold on. I know I would have a great time completing a master’s degree in English, and I know that it might be the best move now that unemployment has taken a turn for the worst, but it will take 2 years and will even further broaden my skill set. It would be one thing if I was going to grad school in order to recieve training for a specific vocation, but as someone who doesn’t want to be a teacher (at this point), a masters degree will only make me even better at something I already studied 4 years at university for. If I couldn’t narrow my career path then, what makes me think I will be ready to enter the workforce after another 2 years of reading and writing?

Aside from the fact that I would be spending money to defer my ascent of the corporate ladder due to my indecision over which ladder I want to climb, there is no longer any reason for me to be in SLO. Most of my friends will be gone. There’s not a whole lot for a college graduate to do. It’s not a major city so there’s not a whole lot going on as far as arts and entertainment, and I’m convinced that the Central Coast is impervious to pop culture. If you’re not married with children, or an undergrad, SLO is a wasteland. After living in both LA and London, it’s just hard for me to find things to do in SLO that don’t involve the word “yehaa” or going to the bars (although I am sad to be missing going to the bars at 7am this St. Patrick’s day).

But there are other, riskier options. I am also looking into publishing programs in NYC that allow you to rotate through several different departments in the company in order to see which one is best suited. This way you don’t have to commit to one area (editorial, publicity, production, marketing, etc.) right away. This is especially appealing because I am having a hard time commiting to anything at the moment. Also because it’s in NYC.

Another option is going back to LA and looking for an assistant job. No matter what you want to do in Hollywood, whether you want to produce, direct, write, whatever, you basically have to start out as someone’s assistant. Again, a job with little commitment. I would be overworked, underpaid and absolutley miserable, but I would at least be working toward a more concrete end. Grad school would just be another 2 years I spent in SLO comparing the religiously-inspired works of Milton and Dante. But, a job in LA would also mean that I could get laid-off with the drop of a hat and have no one but President Obama to cry to since I’m no longer on parental payroll.

So for now, I’m stuck in Limbo.  It’s hard to move forward when you have no destination in sight.

Allison, it’s your move.

My First Snow Day! (3 weeks ago)

I know it’s been a while, but it took me a while to get my USB cord to upload pics and then it took me even longer to run out of things to do INSTEAD of fulfilling the requests of my family and friends to put up pics. I will be glad to get them all off my back, but now my inbox will be so lonely 😉

When I came to London, I wasn’t sure how I would be affected by the weather. I was so excited to be out of Candyland SLO that I relished in any day that went below 70 degrees. I was afraid I might change my mind when the temperatures began to take a dive, but so far, I am still happy to wear my coats and boots everyday. And at the end of January, my dreams came true: IT SNOWED!!!

It wasn’t just the “snow” I’ve experienced in Sacramento that is basically just glorified hail, it was snow that began falling at 7pm and came down all night through the next day producing about a foot of snow. Needless to say, London was snow-logged for pretty much the whole week. For such a wet and cold city, one would think they’d have extreme weather conditions covered– but everyone FREAKED  out. No schools were open, trains weren’t leaving the station, buses weren’t on the road– the city was a ghost town. Except, of course for the parks, which were full of school children and adults glad to have a day off. To see the rare sight of London covered in white, we took a walk to Hyde Park. Here are some of the pictures I took.

Published in: on February 25, 2009 at 10:55 am  Comments (2)  
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Back in London, Back in Action

For those of you who prayed that I’d get back into the country, I am indebted to you– I had absolutely NO problems getting into the country. I spent nearly all 10 hours of my travel worrying that I might be shipped back to Sacramento and forced to share a bathroom with my teenage brother again. Again, thank you for your positive thinking and prayers.

In the “Allison is leaving for London” tradition, I was told 2 days before I flew back that I was needed a week earlier than planned. Of course that was exactly what happened the last time I went, and being the creature of habit that I am, I used the same genius packing skills that worked so well the first time: I solicited the help of my best friend Ashley (the vacuum bags worked pretty well too but don’t respond as well to gratitude). Thanks Ashley!  You know I wouldn’t have slept at ALL if you weren’t there forcing me to decide what was going where and you didn’t let me take the “candy breaks” I kept asking for every 5 minutes.

*******

Aside from a few panic attacks I had when filling out UK Border Patrol paperwork, my flights from Sacramento to Las Vegas and then from Vegas to London went quite well. In fact, somewhere between Sacramento and London, some guy named Kevin managed to slip a note into my bag that read, “Fancy a bear sometime?” and left his number. And no, you didn’t read that wrong, he actually spelled “beer” with an “a,” as in “Would you fancy a large fur-covered mammal sometime?” Although I was flattered that the bloke would make such a kind offer, I will not be calling him as I have a personal policy never to date anyone who lacks the ability to spell simple monosyllabic words. Sorry, Kev.

SInce I worked at Nordstrom Rack over the holidays and took advantage of the employee discount, I seemed to acquire a great many more clothes than I had come over with. Thankfully I didn’t have to buy additional luggage due to leftover vacuum-sealed spacebags I had from my first voyage. This, of course, resulted in nearly 125lbs of clothes, shoes and what must have been pure lead being stuffed into my already wide load. So when my employer offered for a driver to pick me up, of course I agreed that would be the best way to ensure I made it home. I was certainly grateful of the offer when I found myself nearly stranded getting off the plane in Las Vegas. I thought I would have plenty of time to spend the last of my dollars at the slots, but most my time was spent inching my way to the international terminal, hoping someone might take pity on me. Where was Kevin when I needed him?

Anyway, when I got off in London, a guy was waiting for me with a sign that read “Allison Baker.” Of course it was less posh than it sounds because it took him nearly an hour to get there. As it turns out, for every minute that you are waiting for your driver to pick you up, the “posh” factor greatly diminishes. So by the time I got picked up, I had become the poor girl whose family/friends/driver forgot about.  Also I was the girl with a crap-load of luggage. I watched teary relatives and swanky drivers in suits find their weary travelers, but I was stuck wandering in circles, wondering if I had made this far only to be stuck at Gatwick Airport for eternity. But then he came, all apologies and “let me get your bags,” so I told him it was fine and got into the car headed back to Belgravia.

I was warned by my employer that Rosie (that’s the dog if you’re just now joining us) would likely cry upon my return. And until I walked in the door and heard her howling at the top of her lungs (in joy, I imagine), I had forgotten what my canine alarm clock sounded like. Five weeks away and I had managed to adjust to waking up after 7 every day quite well.  So naturally I had forgotten the sound of what can only be described as the “Shiba scream,” particular to Rosie’s breed. But I was happy to see her too because it meant that I was back in London. And even though it’s freezing as all heck and my life revolves around a dog and sometimes a teenage girl, I don’t have to share a bathroom and I’m still (at this moment) employed.

Sorry, Reid, but it’s worth it 😉

Published in: on January 28, 2009 at 7:39 am  Comments (1)  
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And then they came for me…

Last night I had the opportunity to go to the American School in London’s production of And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank. The play is set during Nazi Germany and is about the lives of two young Jewish Germans who survived the Holocaust, both who had grown up with Anne Frank. The play goes back and forth between the stories of Eva Geiringer and Ed Silverberg and is punctuated by narrations by Eva and Ed who give first-person accounts of the events in the play.

The play was written by Jim Stills with recollections by Eva Geiringer Schloss, who was actually at the performance and took questions at the end. The staging of the production was interesting because it used multimedia in the form of video (of Eva and Ed), photograph and sound effects that remind the audience that what they see actually occured. Although it was a simpe high school production, the set was creative in that it used a screen in the back of the stage as both a screen for multimedia and was also acted behind to create scenes solely in the shadow. For example, they used it when they portayed the gas chambers and when the actors on stage were telling an account of an event, the event would take place behind them.

The stories of Eva and Ed are extraordinary in that over the years that Hitler was in power, they managed to evade several attempts at their lives. Both Eva and Ed went into hiding for over 2 years and both lost people very close to them. Eva and her mother were separated from her brother and father when they were all sent to Auschwitz and only her and her mother ever came out. Ed was separated from his parents early on and wasn’t reunited with them until almost 5 years later when the war was over. Both Eva and Ed were acquainted with Anne Frank, who would die a mere 6 weeks before peace was made. Eva was Anne’s playmate in school and later became her posthumous stepsister when her mother married Anne’s father Otto after the war. Ed knew Anne when they were in Amsterdam and were something of childhood sweathearts when Anne was 13 and Ed, 16.

The play follows both characters throughout the holocaust; their Jewish heritage somehow betraying them at every step of their journey to freedom. Because of their race and religion, they are physically and emotionally abused, forced to go into hiding, betrayed by people they thought they could trust and lost people that were dear to them, all because a powerful group of people deemed them inferior. Even though the topic of the holocaust has been written about and made into film ad nauseum, it is still important to remember. Powerful people can be persuasive, so persuasive that their followers are willing to do evil if they are bidden to.

When we watch films and read history books about terrible events in history it is easy not to internalize it because the people and the faces evoked are not ones you recognize. They are not your loved ones. But when Eva came up onto the stage at the end of the production, it was hard to think of the play as just “acting on stage.” This was Eva’s story, she had to live through the terror of spending her teenage years locked in a cupboard fearing for her life only to be found and taken to an internment camp where she was always just one excuse away from the gas chamber. As much as I’ve heard about the holocaust, seeing the play and seeing Eva was what it took for it to become real to me.

Here the poem that inspired the title of the play:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the communists
and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me –
and by then there was no one left to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Published in: on December 8, 2008 at 9:18 am  Leave a Comment  

So, When Does My Real Life Start?

Originally, I only committed to 6 months in London because I wasn’t sure how the situation would be or what I wanted to be doing come December. But, since getting paid to live in London and not have any real responsibilites sounded much better than having to move back to the states, find a job/place, and have to do more than walk a dog and take the occasional trip to Paris, I decided to stay for the year. While I am happy to be staying in London, I also realize that I have only postponed the “real” job search for another 6 months. I can’t keep doing that forever, I mean eventually I will have to start my real life. Or will I?

A few weeks ago the family started talking about the possibility of me moving back to SLO with them when they go back. I didn’t really take it seriously and thought they were just kidding, but it seems that they are crazy enough to want me around for another year (or two). Next year, their daughter won’t be living with them, but they will be splitting their time between England and California and want someone to be able to take care of the house/dog while they are gone. Not that the job would be all that different from what I do now, and it doesn’t make much sense to me, but it would yet again push back the date that I have to figure out what I want to do with my life.

But, aside from the job, there isn’t really much for me in SLO: no film jobs, most of my friends will be gone, and I prefer bigger cities. Living in SLO would essentially be the limbo between London and the real world and I don’t know how much longer I can really be such a floater without any real roots. However, if I went back to SLO, I would have a place to live so it would be much easier for me to put myself through grad school. Cal Poly is pretty cheap and I know most of the faculty so it wouldn’t be as difficult a transition as any other school might be. The only thing is: How will an MA in English be any better than a BA in English as far as the “what do I do with my life” conundrum?

And to complicate things even more, they mentioned today that their daughter might opt to take a gap year after she graduates high school in Sevilla, Spain and a few other places. What does this have this have to do with me? Well, they want me to go with her.

Of course it’s great to have these options and it’s been great having a year off to think about what I want to do and to learn more about the world and how it works, but I don’t know how much longer I can be a vegabond. I still want to have a career and I know that I can’t wait too long or else I’ll fall behind. But at this point, I’m still not sure what career path I want to be on. Do I want to work in film? TV? Do I want to take this time to write a manuscript? Do I want to get into publishing? Do I want to go to grad school so I can be a professor? Or do I want to see where life takes me and enjoy it rather than slave over it?

I’m still not sure what I want to DO with my life, but for once, it’s kind of nice to just sit back and let life happen rather than trying to make things happen in my life. I’m in a good position right now, the hard part will be deciding when it’s time to move on.

Published in: on December 1, 2008 at 8:00 am  Comments (2)  
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