I’ve made some mistakes at work lately, which I’m not sure whether to feel bad about or not. The main thing is telling the volunteers things that are wrong, like who’s in charge of what and which uniform to wear and stuff. I make judgment calls based on what I think makes sense, only to find out later that there’s some other factor I never considered that means what I’ve said doesn’t make sense. The other mistakes I put down to working too many days in a row for too many hours a day, like writing the note for early breakfast on the wrong day in the diary (that one came on day 6, 13 hours after my shift began). But on the bright side, at least I wrote it in a day early and not a day late – so no-one’s actually missing out on their breakfast, there was just a little confusion.
When I make mistakes I’m torn between feeling bad about it and celebrating it. Celebrating it is a far more positive attitude to take, but it can seem arrogant and make others think you’re not taking things seriously enough. My opinion on my current situation is that my mistakes haven’t caused anyone any harm, and I’ll definitely learn from them, so there’s nothing really to feel bad about. But then, I’m just new in my job and I don’t want people to think I’m incompetent. For now I’ll stick with celebration, simply because it feels better.
I had my weekend on Monday and Tuesday and felt much more ready to go back to work on Wednesday, although I was still fairly drained. I want to get fitter so I don’t feel this way. Monday morning I got up at my normal time just after 7, and had a leisurely breakfast before heading off to beginner’s ballet at Expressions Studios (whose website appears to be down, or I’d link it). There I met another New Zealander. I didn’t get her name, but she’s lucky enough to have a British passport so she can come and go as she pleases. She’s studying musical theatre and learning dance to help.
The ballet class is really good. The reason I wanted to try ballet – and have wanted to since I took my first dance class six years ago – is for the discipline. Most of the other dance I’ve tried is about expression and having fun and just plain moving. Ballet is so much more strict and structured, and I like it for the contrast. I don’t think I’d like to do only ballet, but having an hour a week where I’m constantly being told not to let my belly hang out or my bum stick out and to control my muscles and make it look elegant and relaxed all at the same time feels great. Especially when I spend another hour later in the day doing zumba, which has the tag-line “Ditch the workout, join the party!”
So after sitting in the sun and reading my books (which reminds me, I need to update my reading log), then taking a rather long (4 hour) nap, which I tried to resist but couldn’t, I put my dancing shoes back on (and by ‘my dancing shoes’ I mean my sneakers) and headed back to the studio for zumba. Oh it’s so much fun. It’s so free and fun and energetic, and I met two great girls called Laura and Gemma, one of whom had a folding bicycle (!), and we chatted all the way back to their places, which is about half way between my place and the dance studio.
For the first time since my arrival in the UK, the light was beginning to fade at 9.30pm, and it felt like a dark and nasty foreshadowing of the cold and dreary winter to come. I shook off the feeling and sat on the balcony in the pleasant night air for a bit before joining Maribeth half way through the movie While you were sleeping which was predictable and frustrating, and the narration was contrived and felt like a ten year old had written it (which isn’t a good feel for a romantic comedy), but I still enjoyed it in a guilty pleasure kind of way.
My other blog, And as I slept has been fully unutilised, as I don’t recall having any dreams since deciding to start it. I’m sure I’ve had them, (because who doesn’t dream for that long?) but I know I’ve not remembered them.
My Sunday, which in real life was a Tuesday was spent wandering around town. I found the area where Cat Stevens grew up, and although I couldn’t find the exact flat to stare at and wonder, I strolled the streets and let my imagination see what he might have seen and feel what he might have felt. I spent some time at the National Portrait Gallery enjoying the BP Portrait award exhibition – although it’ll take more than pretty pictures for British Petroleum to be in anyone’s good books for a while, I’m sure. (On a side note, one of the volunteers here, Elena, had this as her status update on Facebook the other day: “You know you’re a girl guide when you see “BP” in the news and think “Baden-Powell”.”)
After a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at Leicester Square, I found a library, pored over a road atlas of London and made my way to Portobello Road. It was touristy but I enjoyed it and sang Cat Stevens’ song Portobello Road to myself over and over again.
I finally got myself some sandals, which makes me very happy, but as they are Birkenstocks, I’m also now very poor (bring on pay day!). The rule that bugs me most about Pax Lodge is the ‘shoes must be worn on the ground floor’ rule. It’s summer, I need to be a bare-foot sun-bunny.
On Tuesday night Elena accompanied me to Capoeira. It was awesome. It was the second class I’ve been to and Elena’s first. None of the same people were there, as Pequeno Mestre, the instructor from last time, is back in Brazil for a bit, but I’m coming to learn that Capoeira people are the kind you can describe as Good People. Both times, I’ve been welcomed warmly, shared laughs and been invited out after class. I love Pax Lodge, but sometimes it’s nice to have social interaction with non-Guiding people. It just makes me feel a little more normal. Guiding friends are truly great friends, but it’s strange to have so few males in my life and it makes me feel as if I’m living in some alternate reality, separate from real life.
I am so glad I found Expressions Studios. Instead of paying for a term of classes, and feeling bad when I miss one, which would be inevitable with my work schedule, the norm at Expressions is drop-in classes that you pay for one-by-one, with no expectation that you’ll show up regularly. It is convenient that ballet, zumba and capoeira happen on my regular days off work, but that doesn’t mean I’ll always be able to go. What I love most is the freedom of movement. In general day-to-day life we don’t get to move as much as we could. We don’t think about our movements, and rarely make any more than the minimal effort required to control them. Dancing makes you focus on moving, think about your limbs and your muscles and it makes you feel so good! I despise running. I dislike most forms of exercise while I’m doing them (although of course I always feel great afterwards), but dancing is different. I can get fit, move, challenge myself mentally and physically, learn new things and listen to music all at the same time. And that’s before you even take into consideration the social aspect. And I love the contrast of ballet and zumba: discipline and freedom.
Wednesday morning I did something else incredibly enjoyable: I attended a writers’ workshop at Holborn library. Aoife Mannix is the writer in residence for Camden, an Irish woman who takes delight in words and the way they go together. Using old objects from the Holborn library archives, we invented ghosts, and before long each of us had a poem. Mine still needs a great deal of re-working, but I intend to submit it for consideration in an anthology of Mannix’s time as Camden’s writer in residence, and in a poetry competition which requires that poems be inspired by items from the archives.
The workshop meant I got to work late, but that was okay as it was pre-approved. Wednesday also happened to be International Centres Day, although it should rightly be called European Centres Day. All the guide and scout centres around Europe had the chance to enter a day of fun and games based on time travel. We posted our entries on the blog I linked to above, and Pax Lodge won our category: A Year in a Day with this video:
It was a fun day, and we still managed to get heaps of work done as well as making our video!
I worked a C shift on Wednesday, which means working from midday until 9pm, then being manager on duty until 7am the next morning. Thursday was an A shift: 8am – 4.30pm! Always fun to have those back to back. But A shift is good because it means having the afternoon and evening off. Last night Elena, Kay, Maribeth, Ruth and I went to see Inception at the O2 centre on Finchley Rd. Wow, what a film! Definitely one to see, even though you knew how the ending was going to be from the beginning. It’s the kind of movie you want to be silent afterwards, to think about it, but Elena and Maribeth, who had seen it before, kept asking “What do you think?” It took me a while to be able to say anything, although of course I enjoyed it. Possibly my favourite part of the evening was afterwards in the bathrooms. The lighting in the cubicles was very dramatic, and I could see the dust particles floating in their eternal brownian-style motion as I sat and thought about what I’d just seen. I raised my hand dreamily in an attempt to catch them, and the golden light reflected brilliantly off my hand onto the glossy black paint of the door. I’ve never had such a beautiful experience in a toilet stall before. It all felt very cinematic… except that I was peeing.