Friday, May 20, 2005

Aaron and Gina arrive soon

serta lamb
serta lamb,
originally uploaded by nicdthomas.
My friends Aaron and his sister Gina arrive tomorrow for a week long visit and I am so terribly excited. I've been friends with Aaron since college (Uni for my UK readers) which means we have been buddies for a really, really long time. Sixteen years. Christ I'm getting old.

On the subject of old, a lot of people in the office are shocked that I am nearly 35. The median age here is mid twenties. I look like I am in my 30's (which is fine by me) but I think the shock comes from people here don't age that well. Maybe because they have been in the pub smoking since they were fifteen. I dunno.

Anyway. . . Aaron and Gina are coming and we will be doing a lot of the touristy things that I haven't had a chance to do yet.

We will also be taking a lot of Sleepy Lamb photos.

The people that know me, know that I have hanging in my bathroom my degrees from college and two rounds of graduate school (it's just a fancy way of saying I have 90K debt from student loans).

I also have pictures of a serta sleep lamb stuffed animal gallivanting about the town in Seattle, Portland and Ketchum Idaho. (Think of the gnome from Amelie)

It all started Labor Day 2001 at the Bumbershoot music festival in Seattle. Aaron and I got the idea to take pictures of sleepy lamb on the bus, near the Space Needle, watching Rusted Root. Every time we do a trip together Sleepy Lamb comes along.

So there will be photos of Sleepy Lamb at the London Eye, The Tower of London, getting pissed in a pub. . .

Thursday, May 19, 2005

liaising

Another word they use here is liaising. Such as, "Hello Nicole! I have been liaising with Anna." In American that means, "I have been working with Anna." Or, "I will liaise with Anna to resolve this issue." American: "I will work with Anna to resolve this issue." Stuart arrived this morning. He had been in Vancouver since 5/3/05 (Or, 3/5/05. I need to get used to European dates) The plan had been that we would visit each other a lot when we were in the same time zone and move him to LA and deal with the special hell that is getting the American K1 Fiancé visa. . . but he decided that he missed London and wanted to come back so now he is back. He grabbed me when he arrived and said, "You are real" in that cute little Oxford accent of his. So happy. I will be liaising with him later.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Little Differences

Some little differences about London that I have noticed recently. . . They really like the sparkling water. There has been a bit of a revolt here in the office actually because they used to have free sparkling water before the move to the new offices in Soho and they are very upset that it has been taken away. In a restaurant you typically need to say still water if you just want regular flat water. Bottles of water that you buy will say still as well. In America it assumed that the water is still unless it says sparkling. Another little thing is their version of office speak. It has always amused me in America how in the morning everyone, myself included does the, “Hey, how is it going? Good? Yeah, I’m good.” thing each morning around the coffee maker. No one really listens and no one really cares. If you burst into tears and shrieked, “My life is crap! I am a shell of my former self! All I do is dream of quitting this hell hole, taking my stapler and going off to a tropical island and drinking cocktails made of pureed fruit with little umbrellas!” Well. No one would quite know how to respond, but it would provide weeks of pleasurable IM gossip. (I have often thought how great it would be to absolutely gonzo nuts on the job. Not go in the bathroom for my Holly Hunter Broadcast News cry but really, really lose it- not go postal lose it, but you know what I mean. . . And then see what people do) In London their version of “How is it going?” is “You alright?” This threw me at first. In America you don’t ask if someone is alright unless it looks like they are NOT alright. Another odd little business phrase is when you call someone and the secretary is about to transfer you, they will say, “Bear with me.” At first I thought. . . bear with me? What the hell?? But they did the transfer and the next time it happened I realized that it was their version of me saying, “May I put you on hold while I transfer you?” The way they say good bye and the end of a call cracks me up. There is a lilt to the “Okay! Bye-bye!” that is hard to explain. Women do it more than men do, but sometimes they do is well. It’s quick and kind of dismissive. There is no way you can interrupt someone in the middle of a “Okay, bye-bye!” I feel like a cultural anthropologist. Is that a job? Stuart said if I lose my American accent he is shipping me back to the states.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A Long Way Down

A Long Way Down
A Long Way Down,
originally uploaded by nicdthomas.
Gobbled the new Nick Hornby, A Long Way Down this weekend. He revisits the suicide stuff that he brushes with in About A Boy and the character of Jess is a version of one of the characters in that book as well. He uses The London Eye beautifully as a metaphor for the passing of time.

I didn't like it as much as How To Be Good, his last novel but I found it very effective. Don't want to say much more so I don't give anything away. I do prefer the UK cover to the American-- Has a bit more style.

Warner Brothers has already bought the movie rights and Graham King, Johnny Depp and David Heyman will produce.

After reading it I played Hollywood producer in my head for the adaptation.

First Mike Leigh should direct so it is not a big ball of happy let's all kill ourselves Breakfast Club tripe but something real.

If I were the casting director it would be the easy choice for Johnny Depp to be JJ, the failed musician which is boring, so I would cast him as Martin the just out of jail for shagging a 15 year old girl ex morning chat show host.

I would cast Steve Zahn as JJ because it would be nice to see him not do the wacky side kick thing. Given his background he can do a hell of a lot more and he can sing.

Emma Thompson for Maureen which she is too young for but she is such a centered actor she would be perfect.

And Jess. . . Jess is the hardest part probably because you have to hate and love her at the same time. You might think I am mad but I think there is more to Keira Knightley than what has been given to her so far. . .

Anyway. I am done playing Hollywood powerbroker.

One thing you can say is that if the film does get made, the soundtrack will be fab (if Hornby has anything to do with it).

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Photos

Seine at Sunset
Seine at Sunset,
originally uploaded by nicdthomas.
Flickr is having issues so I will go in later and organize the Munich and Paris photos. But, if you would like to flip through now you can have a look.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Lion Mutilates 42 Midgets in Cambodian Ring-Fight

Poor Midgets. . . As happy as I am that there are not 42 mutilated midgets out there, there are just some things that you wish were real.

Meeting Cute

There is a phrase in Hollywood, "meeting cute" which refers to how the couple in a romantic comedy meet. Think of all the romantic comedy classics and they typically meet in a quirky way. For example, It Happened One Night which if you don't know it, go rent it. You don't like old movies you say? I don't care. Netflix it. If you don't like it, you don't have a soul. They always show the clip of the hitchhiking scene where she lifts up her skirt to get a ride, which I suppose in 1934 was rather risqué. When Harry Met Sally is the ultimate meet cute movie. Again another film that if you don't like it, you have no soul. (There's a film review quote for a one sheet. "IF YOU DON'T LIKE THIS MOVIE, YOU DON'T HAVE A SOUL" --Tammy Faye Baker) There is a fine line because some meet cute is so cute you want to vomit. Stuart and I met very cute. It's funny, a lot of people at my company met their future spouse there. He was supposed to sort my computer. Because my log in is based on the US there was all this drama about bringing me over to Europe servers, but then it seemed that they couldn't do that, blah, blah, blah but that I should still be able to get the stuff I need while on the US system. Major run around from everyone. After a week of my not having the systems that I needed to do anything other than sit at my desk and look cute, I wrote him a very terse, "I need this and this and this and this and I need it now" e-mail. He took care of it that day. I ran into him working on my PC and he apologized for the delay. I was annoyed with him, but I said, "Don't worry about it. I know you are like twenty people" (And he was. He was always running around) then I touched his arm and he gave me this look which totally threw me. I thought, "I need to be careful about my flirting, don't I." (I flirt. Everyone does. I even flirt with girls. "I love those shoes! You look sexy today! Did you just get your hair cut?”) Later, he pinged me asking did I want to have a personal tour of London and I figured, why not? He was moving to Canada so it couldn't be more than friends. Plus I had a boyfriend in LA- which wasn't really in the best place, but still. . . and Stuart had complications as well. . . CUT TO: INT. LONDON NATIONAL GALLERY - NIGHT BRITISH BOY and AMERICAN GIRL fall in love. I resolved my relationship in LA and he is fine. We weren't really in the best place together so while it has been a little difficult, he is okay. The punch line to this whole business is that Stuart didn't sort my computer on purpose. He wanted to find a way talk to me. Meeting Cute. . .

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I love Paris in the Springtime. . .

One thing is for certain, I will be finding the time to go back. The office has amazing Oh, Mon Dieu! panoramic views of the city. When I stepped around the corner of the hallway and got my first glance of the Eiffel Tower, tears sprang into my eyes. Beyond lame. I did take pictures so I will post soon. The people in both the Munich and Paris office blew me away with their hospitality. When they took me to lunch, the apologized that it was not a proper French lunch in terms of the time. An hour and a half later. . . After work we went out for a drink at a bar nearby then Hervé, Gonzague and Nora took it upon themselves to show me a bit of Paris so we walked to the Louvre and then found a little bistro where I had a croque madame and many glasses of red wine were consumed. Lovely evening. Nora was very sweet and said that she liked my accent when I spoke French, which trust me, is un peu. Learned an interesting thing there. I often heard "oui" pronounced 'way' rather than 'wee'. So I asked about it and they said that saying 'way' is akin to saying 'yeah' rather than 'yes'. It was nice to come back home to London though. Funny that I call it home, although I am getting really sick of wearing my winter coat in May. I know I have been spoiled by west coast weather for most of my life and I have no room to complain. Crazy stuff on the personal side of things. I have been hanging out a lot with my friend Stuart which is madness since he was immigrating to Canada. But he has decided to stay in London. And he has asked me to marry him. And I have said yes. And I will be moving to London permanently in the next few months. Madness. But it is delicious.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

J'arrive

I am in Paris. I'm not going to have time to do anything really since I just arrived tonight and tomorrow et Mardi I have work and then am back to London Tuesday evening staight from the office. Janelle and I may come in for a weekend soon so I can do a few of the touristy things that I won't have time for the next few days. Getting a cab was a breeze at the airport, although a man behind me tried to jump the queue. I just used my body language and luggage to non-verbally suggest that he step back bitch. The area around Charles De Gaulle approaching Paris is terribly industrial and then you see up high on a hill the Sacrè Coer. It was built as a memorial to 58,000 soldiers that died during the Franco Prussian war. Completed in 1923, it took 46 years to build. I can just see it from my Montmartre hotel room window. I am staying at the Hotel Mercure Paris Ronceray right near the Jouffroy Passage. Passages are covered arcades built in the end of the 18th Century to shelter shoppers from the elements. Just at the end of the passage is the Hotel Chopin which my room faces. Had dinner in a cafe down the way from the hotel and the waiter was lovely, not the least bit rude. A cab driver even waved to me to cross a crosswalk (zebra crossing for you uk readers). I took French in college but little brain has only retained a few phrases like, "My name is. . ." and "what time is it?" I did use "Ça va" on the taxi driver which made him happy. (It's a shorthand way to ask, "how are you?") In any case, I have managed to not get lost and have a yummy meal of vin rouge, escargot, boeuf, salade et gâteau de chocolat. Je suis heureux. Because I am a talented girl, I forgot to pack my hairbrush, toothbrush and toothpaste. I did wander into a little convenience store that had a toothbrush and paste but no hairbrush. My hair may look interesting tomorrow but at least my breath won't stink. Tomorrow I stumble to the Paris office where I am certain they really don't care for me to be there. The Munich and UK teams were all new starters while the team here are all veterans. It will be interesting.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Dangers of the Demon Drink

Apparently the European Sales Director who took us out for drinks last night was feeling spry from a few too many whiskey sours and tried to jump over a hedge at his house. He would have been fine except there was a hole on the other side that he forgot about. . . We were howling with laughter this morning about it. It's funny if he didn't hurt himself too much. A little pain funny. Broken leg not so funny. Okay. No. That's funny too. He's at the doctor this morning but did say that he would be coming in later. I am going to tease him about it as much as possible. Tomorrow is a bank holiday in Germany, France and the Netherlands for Ascension Day. Yes, they have a day off of work to celebrate Jesus ascending to heaven. There are so many things that I could say about this, however I am electing to recuse myself.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Entschuldigung. . .

I have learned a German word. . . Entschuldigung, which means, I'm sorry or excuse me so when you walk up to someone you can say, "Entschuldigung, I am one of those annoying Americans who only speaks English. Can you please direct me to the nearest bathroom." Normally I would put a question mark at the end of that sentence, but I am composing this on a German keyboard which is confusing enough with the z and the y switched among other things- but to make it worse, I have it set up for English so symbols are moved around on me and I have to remember where they are on the UK keyboard which is different the US keyboard. Anyway- a long way of saying I cannot find the question mark. Arrived in Munich late last night. Was exhausted. I stayed up late Sunday night finishing "The Shadow of the Wind" and then I went with Stuart to his parents house in Oxfordshire Monday morning so he collect the last of his things for his move to Canada. When I arrived, the immigration officer looked my passport all over looking for some reason to send me back from wherever I came from and finally reluctantly stamped it. Easily found a cab and 50 euros later I was at my hotel. Euros remind me of pounds in terms of the shape of the bills but they have this nifty foil strip on one side. Hotel is very posh indeed. It is going to be hard for me when I go back to my old life where I need to make the bed every day. The proper Bavarian restaurant they took me to for lunch is directly next to the Frauenkirche, a Catholic Church that was consecrated in 1494. Will post pictures later of course! We are going out for drinks tonight. . . This is going to sound pathetic and sad but I am too old for this. I think I have had maybe three or four quiet nights since I have arrived. I love going out but I feel the urge to turn hermit. Oh waaa. I know. "Oh, boo. Poor American girl is tired from having too much fun. My heart BLEEDS for you." Yes, you are right. I will shut up now. This last weekend I tried to go to Portabello Road but the crowd was so bad I couldn't deal so I wandered around my neighbourhood looking for buildings with blue plaques and visited The Wallace Collection which just around the corner from my flat. Sunday I took the tube to Kings Cross and said hello to the Magna Carta among other lovely books and bookishy artefacts at The British Library. They have a collection of The Beatles stuff as well which I think is delicious.