Movin’ on up…

Thursday 10th March 2011

Hello again!
Well, it’s been a while, so you must be due another little ramble from moi. I’m afraid I started writing this email about 3 weeks ago and have been adding to it ever since, so aside from being a bit long, my apologies if my train of thought appears a tad scattered!

Let’s start with the hot topic of the week here at XXX – Happy International Women’s Day! This week (Tuesday 8th March – also pancake day) was the 100th anniversary of international women’s day, and so we have had lots of great presentations and discussion groups going all week at work. Here are some interesting facts for you to digest – Did you know that 50% of the world’s food is grown by women, yet they only receive 10% of the world’s income and own 1% of the world’s property and land?

Who do you think is the most inspiring woman (across history)? Can you think of anyone who deserves a special mention? Do write back and tell me which woman you find inspiring, or men who have championed women’s rights – I’d be interested to see what comes back. Most people have heard of Rosa Parkes, and Aun San Suu Kyi, but what about achievements like those of Mia Hamm (she has scored more international goals in her career than any other player, male or female, in the history of soccer) or George Bernard Shaw’s campaigning efforts on behalf of women? Here’s a little clipping from one of the stories posted at work for International Women’s Day:

“The first public toilets in the UK were built in Victorian times, around 1850 – but were exclusively for men. There was a general feeling at the time that having public toilets for women were indecent! So along comes our hero – the socialist writer George Bernard Shaw. He campaigned for facilities for women as well as men, and was responsible for the building of the first ladies’ conveniences in the country in Parkway, Camden Town. When they were opened in 1905, local men demonstrated, as they did not believe women should have such a facility. They were regarded “as a feature so gross as to contaminate the value of all property in the neighbourhood”. Today the toilets are still open between 8am and 7pm, seven days a week. Thank-you Mr Shaw.”

How very topical, as the BBC were just this week discussing the planned closures of public toilets across the country as yet another of the government’s cuts to public services! Anyway, that’s probably enough soapboxing about women’s rights for now, although I have joined some truly fascinating debates about women’s empowerment this week, and they really get you thinking about our individual responsibilities towards gender equality, “being the change you want to see in the world” and all that jazz.

So, moving away from the fabulous achievements of womankind, let’s get back to my favourite subject- talking about me! Work is going brilliantly, I ADORE my new job, and am slowly getting into the swing of it. I have learned over 100 acronyms by now, and attended a week-long intensive training course with field staff to brush up on emergency response procedures etc. I have been trained on the Content Management System and have been busy updating some intranet pages, fixing broken links and the like. I have also been trained on Google Analytics, and have been running statistical analysis on the intranet page usage (check me out with all my big long technical words and stuff!!).

Of course by now most of you will be rolling on the floor crying with laughter at the very idea of me coping with such technical mumbo-jumbo. And yet somehow, I seem to be doing it! So far I have managed to do everything I’ve been asked with relative ease, although sooner or later Karina, my manager, going to find out that my relationship with technology is a tad rocky! She has also discovered that I can be a teensy bit ditzy from time to time, after I left my house keys sitting on my desk one day and walked halfway home before I realised and had to come back for them! A week or so later I left my phone at home, and she got all concerned, because apparently forgetting things is a sign of stress, and she was worried that I was feeling overwhelmed. I tried to convince her that I wasn’t feeling at all stressed and overwhelmed, but it was hard to do that without letting on how incredibly ditzy and forgetful I am almost all of the time! I once left the house with my shower hat still on my head, and I almost always have to go back into the house to get things as soon as I’ve closed the front door!

Ah well, she’ll learn those things about me soon enough I suppose! In general though it’s all going very well, and at my performance review/one-to-one meetings she said I was taking to the organisation like a duck to water, so that’s all good!

In other news, seeing as this is the first time in a very long time that I will be in one place for a while (it’s a two-year contract with good opportunities to stay on with the NGO after that) I have started to look for a slightly more permanent place to lay my head and keep all my stuff. Seeing as how the housing market’s still fairly down (or low? Don’t know all the right lingo!), and interest rates are low too, and Oxford is a fairly nice place it seems a good time to try and buy a small flat or a house. So, seeing as I’m new to all that too, my head is now buzzing with random things like surveyor’s fees, and ground rent, and the pros and cons of storage heaters versus gas central heating systems! So lots and lots of new things to learn, and I have been very appreciative of all my friends who have been through this already and offered advice.

Having spent the last two months looking around at what’s out there I have now whittled what I can afford down to shared ownership properties with the housing association, and am getting sucked deeper and deeper into all the complexities that are involved! I have made an offer on a house that I really like, but have to go through a rigorous screening and application process before they will begin processing the sale, so we’ll see how that goes – wish me luck!

Basically, I’m just very very busy at the moment, and LOVING IT!!! I spend all day enjoying my job and then spend most of my lunch breaks/saturdays/evenings shopping for my potential new home (and now that I have made an offer, shopping for mortgages, advisors, solicitors and removal vans!). And, in between all the bustling about I have also managed to have several fun nights out with friends and colleagues, and have now got a reasonably good idea about which places do the best cocktails/cheapest happy hour/best music etc.

Hmm, what else is there to tell you? I’ve managed to get back into some kind of routine and have been going swimming 2-3 times a week before work for the last two months, so that’s good, although unfortunately due to the amazing cafe at work, I’m still putting on weight, so will have to start dieting as well soon! I am also (after a brief Christmas hiatus!) re-learning how to jog, as I still have not yet achieved my epic 5k run. As you know, the Santa fun run was cancelled due to ice and snow (wimps!) so I am now going to be participating in the May Superhero fun run instead! So fear not all you kind people who sponsored me – you shall not be disappointed! More details to come nearer to the time.

So, aside from trying to force my legs to move a bit faster I have also finally, after a lengthy screening process, been accepted onto the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Donor’s Register (try saying THAT three times fast!), so I can now chuck my bone marrow about willy-nilly (well, I have to wait until I’m a match for someone who needs it, but still). I’m a big believer in karma, so I figure it can’t hurt to stock up a few good points now in case I need some good luck later on down the line! Some people are on the register for years and never get asked to donate, but it’s a relatively simple procedure, and could save someone’s life one day, so there’s not really any down sides. Fingers crossed that someday someone wants my super-awesome fabulous bone-jelly….

So I guess that’s about it for now, except to leave you with a rather random and bizarre anecdote!

I was in Cafe Nero with a couple of friends, having a well-earned cup of tea after some hardcore shopping in town, and somehow the conversation swung around to scars and operations. Naturally I proudly displayed my left hand, and started to explain how I had a nasty accident as a child, and essentially started the urban legend about why children should not play on escalators. I was literally just saying “….and I was really lucky as I almost lost these three fingers….” when a strange girl at the next table suddenly leaned over and exclaimed (with a smile!) “Oh my god! Did you try to cut off your own fingers too?”
(Insert horrified silence here)
(Me) “No!!!! Of course not! No! What? Why would you ask that?”
(her) “Oh I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, it’s just that I tried to cut off my own fingers once, and I’ve never met anyone else who tried that too”
(Me) “Oh. Right. Um, well, good. Um, oh, gosh, is that the time? We’d, um, better, you know, um, leave?”
(Cue hasty retreat from cafe and random weird psycho girl!)

So that is officially the weirdest thing a stranger has ever said to me. Crazy!!!

Alright, well I suppose I’ve inflicted enough chat on you poor people for now, so I’ll leave you there. I hope you are all well and happy, and fully appreciating all the amazing women in your life!

tons of love,
Happy, house-hunting, potentially marrow-donating Maya!

ps – I am planning to send out an official invitation to my birthday party soon, but have decided to scrap the fancy dress theme, and keep it a bit more normal – so watch this space!

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