Tag Archives: London

Thoughts Underground

So many people…trying so hard not to look each other in the eye. Studying the newspaper or book in front of them like their lives depend on it. Listening to their iPods, staring at the ground with a bemused smile that conveys that they are happily engrossed in their own amusement. Heaven forbid your forgot your book or your iPod and then you are in a sad state indeed, staring at the floor or reading the ads with your arms crossed and a sullen expression, wondering what the heck that crazy girl is doing scribbling in her journal. Probably American…

Everyone is rocking gently, swaying, the train humming as it glides over the tracks, sometimes a snap as it hits stray bumps.

My favorite is when kids get on the tube and tumble in, tripping, noisy, into the car. “Sit down, sit down!” their mummies hiss. “Leave the nice lady alone.” Then the little girl mischievously scooches next to her mum and proceeds to stare at everyone who is studiously avoiding her gaze, no one talking. Glued to their books. Their IVs.

Sometimes I sneak a smile…

As you get further into central London in the morning, the trains suddenly start to get packed with people. Men and women in their businesswear—suits and boots and heels and peacoats. I look just like them and I always share a secret joke with myself, thinking, “Everyone thinks I’m British.”

During the morning or after work rush, you’re lucky if you get an inch of space to breathe, let alone a seat. And yet the tube gods have no mercy; the Tube Rule reigns supreme: “Don’t look anyone in the eye!” I swear the British perform fantastic feats of contortionism to obey this Rule. One foot wedged between the seat and a briefcase, straddling someone else’s suitcase, the other foot on tiptoe, gingerly leaning across to hold on to the handrail, and always, always keep your book in front of your eyes!! And the women do it in heels.

“The next station is Baker Street. Change for the Circle, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee, and Metropolitan lines. Exit here for Madame Tussauds.”

Step over someone’s leg, duck under an arm, squeeze between a backpack and a body, and you might get out before the doors close.

A man standing with a microphone, projecting in his best stadium announcer voice:

“MIND the gap! Please allow the customers to get off the train before boarding. This train is now ready to depart! MIND the closing doors!!”

Get out, swipe your Oyster Card, and breathe.

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Welcome to March!

Almost three weeks in now, and I’m still loving it.

I keep thinking, “I could really get paid to do this?” I have to say, I think I’ve finally found something that I can see myself doing as a career.

I have now finished copyediting two more books, a biography and a collection of short stories. Obviously, the short stories were such a treat. How I had made it this far in life—especially as an English major—without reading Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Scandal in Bohemia,” I have no idea. I guess that’s the part of this job that I am enjoying the most—the chance to read so many things: things I’ve always wanted to read, things I never wanted to read (but have the chance to be pleasantly surprised by), and things I never would’ve even known about otherwise. I have so many opportunities to enrich my mind.

My other responsibilities have increased as well. I’m in contact with many more authors, asking them to peer review books. And I’m helping my boss with a couple online projects. First, I’m helping to develop the site plan for the website of a new imprint called Thames River Press. For those of you who don’t know, Anthem Press is a small branch or “imprint” of the Wimbledon Publishing Company. While Anthem Press focuses on academic and serious material, Thames River Press will focus more on “trade” books: fiction and non-fiction. I’m part of the team brainstorming what the Thames River Press will become—I’m writing the mission statement and the “About Us” page. Maybe I’m putting more pressure on myself than needed (does anybody really read that stuff anyway?), but I feel like this is a big responsibility and I want to do it well. This directly deals with how the company appears to the public.

Second, I’m also helping to develop the Anthem Press blog. This is exciting because now I feel like there is another reason for me to keep working on this blog, to learn all I can to make the Anthem Press blog the best it can be. I’m also really glad I had experience in charge of the Sigma Tau Delta blog at Azusa Pacific University.

I’m really flattered that I’m being allowed such a role in the company. Maybe it’s really just what everyone does and it’s nothing special, but it’s certainly more than I expected to be able to do. I love that I’m getting real “hands-on” experience that’ll look good on a resume.

But more than that, I’m also really enjoying the other interns. The sad part of this internship is that people are coming and going, so I’m not sure how many really meaningful relationships can be made. Yet so far I’ve enjoyed getting to know a British girl named Katie, who’s been doing graphic design, and a British guy named Rob, who’s the other editing intern (besides me). Most of our conversations have centered on the differences between American and British culture (always a funny topic), but we’ve started getting to know each other and become comfortable. Katie’s last day is tomorrow, but I hope we can stay in contact.

I’ll write again sooner next time, I promise.

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The Story of How God Provided For Me (Again)

Really, this has always been a story about how God has provided for me, but I figure, as true as that title is, you might get bored seeing it for every post.

After realizing that I had no living arrangement for my time in London, we thought that I would probably have to return home with Andrew on Sunday. It seemed very unlikely that, so late in the game, we would find a place to stay that was 1) affordable, 2) not a scam, and 3) available right now and for exactly the amount of time I would need it. After such a harrowing ordeal the past couple days, I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to stay anymore.

Andrew and I celebrated our one year anniversary on Thursday by going to Oxford, and we figured it would be the best part of our trip together before we both went home on Sunday.

Oxford was amazing. It felt like we had never left. We went around to the Radcliffe Camera, the Bodleian Library, walked through Christ Church Meadow, and just wandered the High Street and Cornmarket. We had coffee at Coffee Republic, where Andrew and I used to hang out and have tea in the beginning of our friendship, and we met up with one of Andrew’s old tutors for tea at The Rose. We finished the day by sharing fish and chips at the Eagle and Child, renowned meeting place (or “watering hole”) of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, and the Inklings.  Also our favorite pub, where we had celebrated our birthdays together while we were at Oxford.

After such a wonderful day, we headed back to London. When we got there Milo and Leanne excitedly told me that they wanted to offer me one of their spare bedrooms! They said they didn’t want to let a couple bad experiences cheat me out of the amazing experience of working at a publishing company in London. I was (and am) still overwhelmed by their generosity. I accepted, and I am so thankful. I think it will be an even better situation than staying in an apartment by myself, like I had planned.

Andrew and I have spent the past couple days much more at ease, touring London, seeing the famous sites, and enjoying the company of friends. Friday we visited Anthem Press and talked to my boss, Tej. Apparently this internship is highly competitive, and if I went home there were 5 people waiting to take my place! Tej also said that most of the interns there go on to get jobs at major publishing companies, and, in fact, some of their staff had formerly been interns. I hadn’t realized how prestigious this internship was. But I’m not too intimidated by it. Tej seemed quite friendly and easy to work with. I’m sure it will be difficult, but I’m excited. I’m so thankful I am staying.

This morning I took Andrew to the airport, and I returned to Leanne and Milo’s house by myself. I already miss him terribly, but I feel so much better about staying now that I am staying with friends and am completely convinced that God is taking care of me. It is obvious that nothing is in my control. I have no idea what God has planned for me during this trip. It’s already so different than what I had envisioned.

I start work in the morning. And so, goodnight!

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The Story of How I was a Victim of Fraud

If almost being deported wasn’t bad enough, upon my successful entry into the UK, Andrew’s and my next task was to find the supposed apartment I was renting for my time here.

I had seen the ad for this apartment on Craigslist (already this sounds bad, but stick with me) a few weeks before. It seemed legitimate. And, honestly, I was desperate. I’d been looking for a place to stay for months. Nothing had worked out or seemed to be what I needed. I was so excited to see this ad. I emailed the owner asking if the apartment was still for rent. This “Steven Coalson” responded the next day with pictures of the apartment and more information. It seemed perfect. I was going to have internet, TV, a nice bathroom, even a heated towel rack! Now, for those who have been to England, you know. A heated towel rack is nice. So we went through the negotiations of rent, etc. It’s difficult trying to rent an apartment from out of the country because I can’t meet with the owner or view the apartment ahead of time. I am exactly in the kind of situation that makes me vulnerable to scam artists. And I totally fell for it, because there’s really no way to have prevented it. I sent him my 600 pound deposit (almost $1000), and never heard from him again.

So Andrew and I showed up where the address of my apartment was supposed to be. There was a 22A Leinster Gardens, but not a 22 Leinster Gardens. Sneaky, sneaky scam artist. Unsure whether or not that “A” made a difference in the address, we tried ringing for the porter and calling the individual flats at that address, but no luck. The rest of the street was entirely little hotels. We didn’t think it would be worth it, but we went to the hotel across the street to ask if the concierge recognized the address or owner of my apartment. He didn’t, of course, but he let us use the internet to see if the owner had contacted me (we were hesitant to believe that it was a scam–maybe he was on vacation and hadn’t seen his emails???) and he kept our luggage in the hotel’s luggage room while we again ventured out into the street to try every single address. As expected, nothing. No one knew of a 22 Leinster Gardens or a Steven Coalson.

Thankfully, we knew of a couple staying in London and Andrew had had the foresight to get their phone number just in case anything went wrong. The first hotel’s concierge, Angel, was so sweet. This time he let us use his phone to contact Leanne and Milo, and when we got their address he printed out maps for us and told us the best way to get there.

The concierge’s name was Angel. This was not a coincidence. Before I had left, my mom sent me an email saying that her verse for me while I was gone was Psalm 91:11: “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” I am not very superstitious, and I am exceedingly skeptical about things like this, but I just can’t believe that Angel was a coincidence.

Weary of our travels, Andrew and I left the hotel with our luggage once more and journeyed to Leanne and Milo’s house. We arrived exhausted from an emotional and physically demanding day. Leanne and Milo took us in and gave us the first food we’d had since the plane ride. Another couple, Sarah and Jimmy, whom we know from APU, happened to be staying at Leanne and Milo’s as well. We were suddenly welcomed into an environment of friends and comfort. I know my parents and friends were praying for us, and I just know that God’s angels had guided our travels that day so that in the end we arrived safe and in a better situation than we had anticipated.

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