London in 500 Words or Less

That should probably be “500 words or fewer,” but who’s going to report me to the grammar police?

All of my London summaries are nearly identical, but I can’t help it:

1. Get off the bus.

2. Get overwhelmed.

3. Get on the bus.

4. Get into pajamas and admit it, you’re a country mouse.

Walking around Oxford Circus (London) reminded me of being in Manhattan, fighting my way upstream like a salmon in a sea of people. I didn’t stop for pictures, but I did stop for some Urban Decay eyeliner in House of Fraser. And a new bike lock in Sports Direct.

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We made our way to Borough Market, which was nice but overhyped (/-priced). A makeshift lunch of local/organic/all that semi-elitist foodie goodness plus a nice olive pepperoni baguette hit the spot, and I bought some tomato-chili jam to enjoy back home, plus some Jerusalem artichokes that are very funny-looking but promise to be tasty. And persimmons/Sharon fruit, my latest obsession. I ate the four-pack one by one, on top of the windy London Bridge with juice dripping down my jacket and later, perched on a table in Pret as we drank some caffeinated beverages.

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Riding the tube brought back memories of my 2007 (that long ago?) semester in London. I keep saying I’m going to stop by Kilburn Park, but haven’t, and didn’t this time, either. 

We then tried, unsuccessfully, to find a decent Mexican restaurant. There appear to be only Chipotles and Chipotle-wannabes in London, and although half the reason we went to the city that day was specifically for Chipotle burritos…well, we weren’t feeling it after all. Luckily we found a charming “Beirut street food” place tucked away in a Soho side street, and we were early enough to snag a table. I had to get the chicken livers (named one of the top 100 dishes in some sort of Time Out feature) and they lived up to their hype. Seriously, I say “chicken livers” and can see you click the little “x” on this site, but something about it just worked (I think the frying, plus the pomegranate molasses). Then we shared this for dessert # 1 (dessert #2? Cadbury mini-eggs and creme eggs. Because I needed a full-on sugar coma).

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It was a nice day out, but nothing beats coming home to tea and House of Cards, and that pretty much sums up how the rest of the weekend went. 

For lack of a better title: My new job

It’s officially my second week at [insert name of big university publishing company here]. Friends and family have asked me the usual questions – what do I do? Do I like it? And which part exactly of publishing do I touch?

I think I’m drawn to jobs that sound straightforward on paper, but are actually kind of complicated to explain. And yet I’ve come full circle, and find myself in a role much like the one I landed straight out of college – Admin. Assistant. It’s pretty different (in scope) compared to the first time I found myself in this type of job – much more document management and many more meetings to arrange around insanely-busy schedules, but the groundwork feels familiar and I really enjoy it. My (extreme) attention to detail is both a blessing and a curse, as I submerse myself in the why, how, and did-I-dot-all-my-i’s of my daily workload.

I’m happy to be part of an organization devoted to literature, research, and education, so I feel inspired to be a better admin. assistant this time around. And there’s much to learn; for instance, I’ve never worked on a PMO (programme management office, in this case) and feel challenged to wrap my head around MS Project workbooks and change management processes. As to the question of “which part” of publishing I do, I suppose the easy answer is people. Divisional infrastructure, risk management, and other business-y terms might be a better description, but the core of it is: look at how departments are currently doing things (hierarchy, IT and process support, etc.) and help them do things differently. Well, help my boss help those departments do things differently.

So, I get a high-level view of how things work here, and that’s pretty cool.

Other perks: cheap cappuccinos, a gym in the basement (did a ViPR class today, which was fun) and an in-house library. Not to mention a slightly shorter commute (by 5 minutes, I’m slow on my bike) and walking distance from John’s office. He likes the cappuccinos, too (and burger-bar Fridays).

This past weekend, I got together with my former co-workers, and hope to keep that going as my previous job increasingly becomes a distant memory. The people were (are) great, and Oxford is small, so I feel I can actually maintain those connections. What I won’t miss is the ride up Rose Hill (and possibly a few things I liked to grumble about on regular occasion to anyone who’d listen).

I should wrap this up because I have a deep conditioning treatment* dripping down my face and into my eyes (ouch), but as a last note on this subject, I feel like this is the most “career”-ish job I’ve had. Maybe it’s just a result of getting older, but it could also have something to do with aligning my love of literature and knowledge with how I pay my bills. It’s a nice feeling.

*Homemade science experiment: mix equal parts warmed coconut oil (one of the few oils that penetrates the hair cortex, rather than just coating it) with a moisturizing conditioner (conditions, duh) and add a small blob of raw honey (an effective humectant/emollient) and massage into your hair. Secure with clips/bobby pins. Leave in for a few hours (or until you get sick of it dripping down your face) and wash hair as normal. Shiny!