10 things I’ve learned about life during my first week at work

The Rogue Zed

I started work last week–a full time, temporary position, but I have employment nonetheless. And it’s at a great company, I really enjoy working there. Anyways, over the course of the last ten days, I have learned a great deal.

10. If you need to know something, ask.

It could be simple, or complex. You only look like an idiot if you don’t ask and make a mistake. Also, ask if you’re a newbie. You’re expected to asked silly questions.

9. Take advantage of down time.

Commuting by train like me? Bring a book. A notebook. A shopping list. Anything to make time pass productively. I wrote this article on my commute. Putting time aside to do what you enjoy is easy when you’re stuck on a train.

8. Smile.

Say hello to people you see everyday, even if you don’t know them. Being acknowledged makes people feel good about themselves.

7. Own up to your mistakes and do your best to correct them.

This may mean taking an out-of-pocket expense that results in your needing to avoid the pub for two weeks (I don’t drink that much, but beer is price and so are train tickets); this could also mean taking a working lunch to make up for lost time.

6. Oggling the cute guys (or girls) on your commute is completely acceptable.

You admire the landscape passing outside the train (especially if you’re like me and commute from Edinburgh to Glasgow, lovely views), might as well enjoy the view inside the train as well. Sometimes seeing a cute guy is all the motivation you need to make that 7.37 train.

5. Pay attention to social cues.

If you’re asked to drop an email, don’t continue your book pitch.

4. Refer/spell things as they are in the country you’re living in.

For example, the typical ‘u’s. Also, it isn’t ‘organize’ it is ‘organise.’ Avoid the Rogue Zed!

3. Always do your research.

Could be about a company, a specific product…always best to be prepared and have some preliminary knowledge before you launch into a discussion or pitch.

2. Sudden changes in plans have knockdown effects you may not expect.

It may not be something big, like having to post something originally supposed to be hand-delivered, or it could end up being a massive time waster (see point 1).

1. Always check your mobile for messages about plans.

Otherwise you may pull a Beth and find yourself stranded in Bridge of Allan for an hour waiting for the next train back to Glasgow because your meeting was cancelled and you didn’t see the text explaining that.

And bonus:

Always carry an umbrella.

One year as an expat.

Edinburgh Expeditions

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

I’ve lived in the UK for a year now. One year, with only a brief sojourn back to the States. One year.

One year. One year. Living on my own. Responsibilities. Education. Academia. Heartbreak. Making friends. Seeing these friends move away. Interviews. Starting jobs. Design. Worrying. Worrying about if the government will let me stay here, or if I’ll have to return to the States. Will I get to immigrate? Will I have to return to the land of my birth (I don’t call it ‘home’)?

Trips to London. Trip to the Highlands. Pilgrimage to Manchester. Concerts. Theatre. Adventures. Swing dancing. Saying hello. Saying good bye. Moving. Leases. Commutes. Thoughts too complex to be expressed as any more than phrases. Moments. Music. Friends. Poetry. Film-making. Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Fish and chips. Forays into vegetarianism. Bacon beckons. Tea. Biscuits. Brie. Late night chats. Early morning conversations. Sometimes the same thing. Mistakes. Regrets.

Laughter. Tears. Sobs into the night. Loneliness. Frustration. Disappointment. Elation. Love. Token American. Belonging.

A Dissertation: A Story in Five Songs

Edinburgh Expeditions

As my dissertation draws into a close (at this point, the thing is printed, bound and submitted), I realized that my odyssey can be recounted in five songs. It’s more the feeling (and title) of the song than the lyrics, but enjoy away.

May-June

No class! I can do whatever I want! It’s sunny, I can research outside! Mum and sister are in town, I can take some time off!

June-July

Things aren’t going quite as I anticipated…

July-August

As the deadlines draw nearer…

16 August 2012

The thing is in…and I am so tired…it’s a cold and its a broken hallelujah…now to recovery and celebrate with the friends I’ve been ignoring for the last few weeks.

And as it finally sets in…

FREEEDOM! Now I’m off to enjoy the sunny weather, the Fringe, and time with friends before I become a responsible adult.

Edinburgh sun on my skin

Edinburgh Expeditions

On a rare day of sun, I found myself far and away from my computer. I was across town, in the Corstorphine neighborhood. Needing a break from writing, I walked. I strolled, I looked through the gorgeous, affluent neighborhoods, admiring the gardens and the stately architecture.

The Houses

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

This building was just a street over from the bus stop. I took a bit of a detour in my wanderings today, going down a road I had never been before. I was struck by the clear blue sky and the building’s warmth. The colours were fantastic, so very Edinburgh.

Rather than a customary visit to a friend’s (he was in another part of town), I decide to enjoy the sunshine and my solitude and wander through the Water of Leith walk. The walkway goes along the Water of Leith, a wooded path by a stream. It’s so different from the rest of the city, a taste of nature amongst the stone. It’s like being in a different place.

Water of Leith

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

With the madness of the Fringe, the insanity of my dissertation, the regular hustle and bustle of every day life, it was refreshing to step aside, to walk through nature, to contemplate, to smile and to feel the sun on my (pasty, computer-sapped-all-remaining-colour) skin.

The Willows

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

The sun reminded me of something very important. Sometimes we need to set aside the stresses of every day life. The responsibilities that we find ourselves surrounded by. I need to let go, and just be.

My aMOZing Weekend

General Geekiness

Whilst queuing for Morrissey’s Manchester gig yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice that there was an open McDonald’s on the premises of the Manchester Evening News Arena. A bit strange, given that we were waiting to see Manchester’s most famous vegetarian.

“I’m not a veggie,” I said to my fellow adventurer/Morrissey fan Amy. “But I haven’t eaten meat in over 24 hours in preparation for my pilgrimage.”

Though I flippantly termed our trip to Manchester as a pilgrimage, in a sense, it was. Though Amy had been to Manchester before, it hadn’t been with a Smiths fan. We didn’t have much time in Manchester, arriving yesterday late morning and leaving first thing today. We did, however, have enough time to make a couple of important stops.

First on the list was the Salford Lads Club. The Lads Club is not, as I originally assumed, a strip club. Instead, it is a rec center, like the Boys and Girls Club.

The Salford Lads Club is about a 30 minute walk from the city centre, located in Salford. It’s down this row of little brick houses. Tucked just off of a main road, it’s one of those places you wouldn’t know was there if you weren’t looking for it.

Salford Lads Club has since cleaned up a bit since the famous photograph was taken. Throngs of fans go there each year, to take their photo like The Smiths, Amy and myself included.

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

Inside the Lads Club, there is a room dedicated to The Smiths. This could potentially be a bit overkill, but working in its favour was the small size of the room. It was a squash court, now a shrine to The Smiths. The entire room is covered with images of The Smiths, of fans standing outside the Club (I’m going to be sending the photograph of Amy and myself), of articles pertaining to the Smiths, paintings of Morrissey, and notes from devoted fans.

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

Being of an artsy bent, I left a note of my own–complete with a picture of Morrissey. My note is the yellow one with the drawing in the above picture. By no means my best picture of him, but pretty good for five minutes with a ballpoint pen! I would love to return in a few years and see if the note has been glued to the wall.

After leaving the Salford Lads Club, we wandered to the arena. Amy and I had floor tickets, so we wanted to make sure we were there early.

We weren’t in the first thirty, but were definitely in the first 100 people at the arena. We watched as more and more people piled in, complete with quiffed hair, Smiths or Morrissey shirts, big glasses. I looked rather out of place in my teal top and black cardigan, decidedly unhipster (or, at least, unlike the rest of the fans my age). Whilst waiting, the BBC interviewed a few people. I wasn’t, but I think I ended up in a few shots–I was drawing pictures of Morrissey to pass the time.

Finally, it was time to enter the arena, still a good hour and a half before the show was due to start. The excitement was palpable. I couldn’t help but jump up and down, shaking with enthusiasm.

When Morrissey arrived on stage, there was a great ‘rush and a push’ as what felt like the entire floor lunged to the stage. Everything I said about Balkanarama being the most insane concert situation I’ve been in has been taken back. Morrissey, playing in his home town, wins.

The floor was a hot, sweaty, undulating mass of bodies, of arms, of getting far too close to absolute strangers. Yet it was incredible. Everyone was there for Morrissey, everyone was (mostly) respectful, and it was mad. Though, as a very tiny girl, the second row probably wasn’t the best place for me to be, I’m rather bruised and battered and very thankful to still have some of my painkillers from my back injury!

Morrissey himself was on top form, physically a bit out of shape (the man’s 53 years old, we can cut him some slack), but his voice was just as powerful as when he was in The Smiths. Whilst he doesn’t bound around the stage anymore, his stage presence is dignified and commanding. There’s such passion in his singing.

I’m to see him again tomorrow night in Edinburgh. Am hoping to get front row this time. I do imagine that the crowd may be a bit more subdued than Manchester.

And as a final note…Morrissey biscuits at Salford Lads Club.

(C) Bethany Wolfe 2012

A Study in Shoes

Sheer Art Attack

A couple of years ago, I wrote an entry about the fifteen books that I’d use to create a self portrait of myself.

While wandering around Edinburgh in my favourite pair of boots, I realised how photographing my shoes could provide an interesting portrait, a more accurate one than any other article of clothing. And given my interests in art, how we present ourselves, and some slight vanity (I blog, don’t I?), this is an interesting little project for myself.

Firstly, my favourite boots. I bought these at the start of term, and have worn them nearly every day since. This is actually my second pair–the heel of the first pair sadly separated, but the store I bought them from replaced the shoes free of charge!

The boots

The boots!

Secondly, my dancing shoes. I have two pairs–the brogues I picked up in Florence, when I studied there for a semester back in 2010. I wear these when the floor isn’t as slick as I’d like. They are a little dangerous if I’m dancing on nicely waxed floors, though.

The brogues!

The brogues!

The other dancing shoes I acquired in Scotland. They aren’t proper dancing shoes, but they do the job (and they look awesome). They aren’t as slippery as my brogues, so these work much better.

The dancing shoes

The dancing shoes

Finally, my slippers. The shoes I wear around my flat. The fluffy, warm, wonderful slippers. The shoes I wear when drinking tea. The infamous pair of shoes, the ones I slip into when I don’t want to leave the flat.

The slippers

The slippers