Thursday, 28 January 2010

Oregon Trail

This is a serious throw down for Taylor and Elyse. Rhea J is back on the Oregon Trail and this time it's for keeps! Get ready to have that precious high score taken off you!

You think it was bad when the bandits made off with your last scraps of food and all your oxen? You ain't seen nothing yet!

I miss you Riverview Theater

popcorn - riverview theater, originally uploaded by Dan Anderson.
Sometimes I miss going to the movies. That's right the movies, not the cinema. I also have a hard time calling all movies films. It just doesn't sound right to me to call Dude, Where's My Car a film.

To me a film is... anyway I digress. The point of this post is for me to talk a bit about how much I miss the Riverview Theater. I also have no problem admitting that I look at the website at least once every two weeks to see what's playing even though I am 4022 miles away.

I love that theater. The amazing retro decor, the super cheap ticket prices. I had to take a quick look at their website to see if the tickets were still $3.00 a pop. I can even remember when it was $2.00!

And the popcorn. Oh how I miss the popcorn.

I would get a bag of peanut M&Ms and empty it into a nice medium sized bucket. The peanut M&Ms would get a bit melty and you'd have that perfect sweet/salty flavor combo.

I used to see a lot of movies there. It was great. You could be out and about, looking for something to do and think.....I'll see what's on at the Riverview.

I'd be out with a friend having a coffee and we'd flick through the CityPages and the next thing you know we're off to the movies. 90% of the time the movie would be starting in like ten minutes and you'd have to race to get there. Or you'd have some time to kill over at the wine bar across the street. I miss that spontaneous movie going very much.

I heart FB

The other day I was looking at my friend Jessica Ibarra's profile. She had recently been on the local news in Minnesota chatting about the iPad.

I noticed that she had a comment from a guy called Shawn Bartle. Now that name was familiar to me because the first person I ever kissed was called Shawn Bartle.

So, I send Shawn an email to find out if he was the same Shawn from West Saint Paul. Turns out it was him.
Yes I had my first smooch in West Saint Paul, in tree house to the sound track of Faith No More.

Anyway, I also send Jessica an FB email asking her how she knows him. Turns out it's an ex and they went out for four years! How crazy is that!

That's what I love about Facebook. People from your past just don't go away. You might be hanging out with your friends and recall someone from when you were in kindergarten and then find them on FB. I will say that unless it's a person that I really think might want to connect with me I don't add them as a friend. You have to draw the line somewhere.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

ready for something new

My shoes, originally uploaded by rhea o'connor.

I finally got around to renewing my Flickr pro account and was having a look through the photos. I stumbled across this photo, taken in Dublin.

That was at the beginning of my London adventure. It's funny to think back to that time, still so clear in my mind, and seeing how things unfolded.

Would I have ever thought that I would be married and living in London?

Just goes to show you that life can take many paths and as long as you have some cute trainers things usually will turn out alright!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Some days you're the bug, some days you're the windshield.

(Photo credit: Shannon Leigh Dolan photo of Lisa Rabaglia, Katie O'Connor Arts High 1995)

A few months back by boss had changed her IM message to say that she was listening to Owl City and loving it. I hadn't heard of this Owl City before and looked it up to find out it was a fella from Owatana, MN who was in fact very popular. After reading the following expert on Wikipedia I thought I would have a listen.

Owl City's third album Ocean Eyes was released on iTunes July 14, 2009, with the physical release following on July 28, 2009. The album debuted at #27 on the Billboard 200. Owl City has released four singles, "Hello Seattle", "Hot Air Balloon", "Strawberry Avalanche", and "Fireflies".[7] "Fireflies" topped the US and Canadian charts and became the most-downloaded song on iTunes in the US. Ocean Eyes reached the top ten on the US album charts and topped the US electronic charts and also reached Amazon MP3's top 10 most downloaded album list. By December 2009, it was certified Gold in the United States. On 17 January 2010, Owl City reached the number 2 spot in the UK Top 40 Singles chart with "Fireflies".

His music reminded me the Postal Service, but not as good and I dismissed it. It sounded like the kind of music a 15 year old angsty teen trapped in the suburbs of Apple Valley would love. It dawned on me that I was much too old for lyrics like this:

The stars lean down to kiss you,
And I lie awake I miss you,
Pour me a heavy dose of atmosphere.
Cause I'll doze off safe and soundly,
But I'll miss your arms around me
I'll send a postcard to you dear,
Cause I wish you were here.

So I forgot all about Owl City. Until Tuesday when I was watching the telly and the video for Fireflies came on. What a cute little video it was. You've got Adam Young playing the keyboard and singing in a bedroom full of cool retro toys. The next day at work I looked up the song on Spotify and became hooked on it.

The song and the video remind me of being an angsty teen at the Arts High and I am a sucker for nostalgia. If only I still had my retro lunch box, baby t's and bib overalls. It also reminds me of summers in Windom, Minnesota and going to the Dairy Queen for fresh raspberry milkshakes and those were good days.

The long train to Nitta and the mystery of the gyro stand in Ueno

I thought that I would paraphrase my friend Taylor's blog post in its entirety. It gives a bit more detail about why the journey from the airport was so darn long. Funny thing, when I was writing about it I omitted this bit. Which at first was a shame, but now Taylor has written for me! What a blessing!

Enjoy and be sure to check out his blog. He writes about living in Japan and teaching English, but it's not boring at all. His friend Liz also contributes to the blog, she's living in Berlin teaching English as well.

"Like a shepherd drawn by the light the of the Nativity Star to baby Jesus, I was invited by the smog-muted glow of Tokyo to visit one of its many lowly street vending establishments. In short, I was hungry and wanted a gyro. I yanked the train emergency break (figuratively) and steered my weary compatriots away from our intended destination and into yonder metropolis. I had faith that the little sandwich savior anointed in tzatziki sauce and wrapped in toasted pita would redeem me of all hunger.

The gyro was a Christmas delight but its redeeming qualities were lacking. On the way home, the brick of spicy shredded meats slowly dissolving in my stomach disoriented me – causing us to take trains in the wrong direction and not exit the trains when we were supposed to. That, in addition to the already time-consuming side odyssey into Tokyo, added an extra three hours to the ordinarily three hour train ride. By the time we finally arrived at my apartment, my already sleep-deprived guests were well into exhaustion. All attempts to rouse them with beer went in vain. After a brief respite, we celebrated the remainder of Christmas night with sushi and naps at the local izakaya.


In hindsight, taking a detour to Tokyo was equivalent to leading my Oregon Trail wagon party to Fort Bridger instead of pioneering straight to the Green River in hopes of being lead safely across by bartering two sets of clothing with the fashion-savvy Shoshone Indian. It was a mistake that an amateur trail guide would have made."

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Being married to this guy is ACE!

I found this today while I was going through my sister in law, Charlotte's Facebook photos. It was taken this past summer at the Blur concert in Hyde Park.

I feel very lucky to be married to such a fantastic man.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

paul bunyan and babe the blue ox

Found this photo when I was having a bit of down time at work. To be fair I was having a IM chat with a friend in Minneapolis and we were taking a trip down memory lane. Recalling some of the people we knew from high school.

Long story, a really funny story actually but I am not sure my friend would like the world to hear it, we were talking about the person who took this fantastic picture. I was doing a bit of cyber snooping and discovered they had a Flickr account and that's where the photo came from.

I think it's a great picture, another reason to love Minnesota!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Delightful Japan

I really miss being in Japan. It seems like such a long time that I was there. I've been back in London for two weeks now. The trip and the holidays seem like they were ages ago.

There were so many amazing aspects to the trip and I feel like I want to blog about them all, but in the meantime I wanted to write about the hot tea I got out of a vending machine in the small town of Ota.

to be continued

Monday, 11 January 2010

Top Hat Tap Dance

Top Hat Tap Dance, originally uploaded by maryjanes856.

I can't believe that I didn't write a post about the tap class I took with my friend Ali! Better late than never, so I thought I'd do a quick post.

Those who know me might remember that I've always had a love affair with tap dancing. For a short time during college I danced with a small outfit called the Shim Sham Shufflers.

Back in those days I was taking a tap class with my roommate Gina through one of the community ed programs. We'd practice our shuffle ball changes in an empty classroom over at Roosevelt High School and fancied ourselves to be the next Ginger Rogers.

My friend Ali caught wind that I had tapped before and asked me if I would be interested in doing a class with her. I thought it sounded like a fantastic idea and we both signed up for lessons at the City Academy school of dance. Ali had taken the beginners course there before and reckoned that with our experience that we should be ready for the intermediate class.

I remember that first night. Ali and I had met up at the Castle pub, just outside of Farringdon station. Our class started at 8 p.m. so we had plenty of time to catch up over a drink or bottle of wine to be more accurate. We polished off our bottle and headed off.

We arrived at the beautiful Finsbury Town Hall, on time for our class. Full of enthusiasm if not a bit tipsy. Ok, maybe a bit more than tipsy. The class just kind off began. With no real instruction. The teacher turned on the music and the class just started dancing. What a minute!? What happened to the shuffle ball changes? We were doing triple time steps along with a series of other steps that I didn't even know the names of.

Not only I was not able to keep up I ended up just kind of moving my feet around to make it look like I was dancing! It was crazy. The class was unbelievably difficult, way beyond my abilities. Ali was a bit better off, but not by much. It was just so comical. Especially when the teacher made us demonstrate the steps in front of the class!

I tried my best, but I am sure I made a real dogs dinner of it! We kept going to the intermediate class until I decided that perhaps we were maybe a bit out of our depth. I suggest to Ali that perhaps we should swallow our pride and move down to the beginners course. Thankfully Ali is a lovely and reasonable girl and we ended up going to the 6:30 p.m. class, which left us plenty of time to explore all the fantastic restaurants along Exmouth Market.

10 weeks later and we had perfected some steps and had a lot of fun. We've decided to give Bollywood dancing a go for the next session. I will keep you all posted.

Here's a list of some the places we went for food and wine.

The Eagle

Little Bay

Dollar Grill & Martini


The Castle

Thursday, 7 January 2010

I was in Japan for Christmas and New Years!

Matthew and I decided that this year we would do something different for Christmas. I was originally thinking that it would be nice to go home to Minnesota, but then I had another idea. How about we go to Japan and spend Christmas with my very dear friend Taylor Baldry?

Thankfully Matthew was keen on the idea and we booked our tickets. We were out in Japan from the 25th of December until the 4th of January. What a trip I tell you! Taylor had decided to teach English in Japan and we didn't want him to get lonely.

I didn't do much research on Japan before we left. Things were busy at work and even though I ended up carrying around a huge Lonely Planet guide book around with me, I never got around to reading it. I was happy to just show up in Japan and see what happened. I guess it also helped that Taylor would be there and he could do most of the talking.

I must admit I was a tiny bit nervous about traveling to Japan. Only because I felt like I was going to be in a completely strange and foreign land where I wouldn't be able to understand anything. That turned out to be true, but it wasn't a problem at all. In fact it was really nice to not be able to understand anything. It made it a true adventure.

We arrived in Tokyo on Christmas day at 10:oo a.m. We then waited dutifully for Taylor to meet us at the observation deck. The Tokyo Narita airport is very nice and it was easy to find where we needed to go thanks to the map also being in English. How thoughtful.

After waiting for Taylor for what felt like a long time we gave him a call only to discover he was waiting for us at the other Terminal. Oh, that Taylor. He eventually found us and after a jolly greeting we set off to his little town of Nitta.

Before we left I was talking to Taylor over Skype about the trip and he suggested that we should only bring very small bags with us. I hadn't planned on bringing a huge suitcase. I hate to be one those travelers who is staying with someone and turns up with a mountain of luggage. Matthew and I were sharing one large duffel bag on wheels and bringing a small carry on. Surely that would be ok? We were staying for 10 days and bringing presents.

When I questioned him about the reason for this he simply stated that we needed to be able to manage our luggage on our back because we were going to ride bicycles from the train station to his house. It was going to only be a 25-30 minute ride and wouldn't that be fun?

No, this didn't sound like fun and I immediately started to panic. My first concern was that we didn't have to backpacks and that the day before we left I would have to go out and find some. I then began to dread and resent the entire idea. We would have been on an airplane for 13 hours and then a 3 hour train ride!

Didn't Taylor realise that I am an old woman! The only sensible option to me was that we take a taxi from the train station to his house. I thought, gee maybe Taylor is really out in the middle of nowhere and we couldn't even get a taxi from his house. Or maybe it was going to be so expensive that it was just out of the question.

In the end I just told Taylor that we were very flattered that he thought we'd have the stamina to ride to his house, but that we would be happy to pay for a taxi. Panic over.

And that's what we ended up doing once we finally got to Ota station, hailing a taxi. It was a good thing because I was bit tired after the long journey to Ota. Apparently it should only take a person 2 and a half hours at the most, but the journey ended up taking 5 hours. I guess we got a little lost. The upside is that the trains are spacious and heated, so I slept pretty much the entire way.

For some reason I thought Taylor was about 30 miles outside of Tokyo, but I had just made that up because I was too lazy to find out.

It turns out that we could have gone by bike to Taylor's house since our luggage didn't make it and was going to be delivered the next day. It was really nice not having to lug the bags, but all the presents and English cheeseboard were going to have to wait until Boxing Day.

After getting to Taylor's we quickly freshened up and set off for our Christmas dinner at Taylor's local izakaya (local bar). This little haven was just down the road from Taylor's and we were treated to sushi and a hot bubbling Japanese stew, or nabe as it's called.

Sitting at that little table I felt the true spirit of Christmas. I never in my life thought I would be having Christmas dinner in a small town in Japan, but there I was. Enjoying fresh sushi and cold beer with my husband and friend I felt very blessed indeed.

Follow my tales of being an American graduate in London starting her career and building a new life.

reflection post

This little caption has been weighing heavy on my mind. It has for the last few months, but with careful procrastination I've been able to avoid doing anything about it.

Looking back I wished that I had started this blog when I had first come to London way back in 2007. The plain and simple truth was that back then I was having too much darn fun to sit down and write a blog. Those were the days I tell you.

Carefree and still at uni. A semester in London and still one to go before I graduated. I was riding high on the notion that I was some kind of MCAD superstar who was going to take the world by storm once they handed me my diploma.

I could clearly see all the job offers pouring in and taking secrete delight in having to turn some down, while subtly bragging to everyone through Facebook updates how awesome I was.

The semester at LCC was brilliant. I met a bloke decided to stay in London, finish that last semester online. Coming back to Minneapolis for graduation was the icing on the cake.

Four wonderful years at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Four years of hard work and non stop creativity all coming to an end. Walking across the stage with my fellow BS student and looking out into the
audience, knowing that I would make them all proud.

There was no time to blog then! I was living the life and wrapped up in the excitement of graduating and going back to London with my fiance.

What an adventure! Look at me, doing something with my life. I had all the confidence in the world.

I was going to have a fabulous Vegas wedding, wait for my marriage visa and head back to London and get my first job. Easy as pie.

After returning to London to join my husband the job hunt began and the birth of this blog.
I thought it would be cool to write about my experience of getting my first job in London.

I thought that it would be helpful and it might inspire
MCAD students who one day would find themselves freshly graduated and on the job hunt.

Of course it would be super interesting because I was doing it London! That's right London!
No MCAD connections would be helping me to find my first job. I would be on my own and my talent and experience would speak for itself.

Until I found that no one wanted or cared to listen.

So the blog was born and it became an outlet for me to write about my experiences. It then morphed beyond just writing about trying to find that first job and became a chronicle of being an expat.

The funny thing about this blog is that I haven't written anything about that almighty first job that I was so desperate to get. There are of course reasons for that. Privacy and that kind of thing, but it feels rather odd that I have written next to nothing about it. That's the thing about social media these days, you never know who's reading. Not that I have anything unfavourable to say about my job of course.

So, back to my opening statement. My little caption doesn't seem so accurate anymore. I graduated on May 9, 2008. I don't think I qualify as a recent graduate.

I'll need to come up with a new caption. Something kicky and exciting. I'll have to think on it. I guess the second part is still true. I am starting my career and building a new life.

As they say over here, watch this space, a new caption for 2010 will arrive shortly.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Happy New Year

I was a bit shocked to see that my last post was back on the 27th of November. seems like ages ago. Well this post isn't going to be anything important. Just a reminder to myself that I will be writing again in the New Year!
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