Sunday, April 15, 2012

First flight and hello LA

So I did it - I bloody well flew for the first time.

And surprisingly it wasn't the white-knuckle scream-fest I expected it to be.

OK, so the emotionally charged farewell with Sparky Ma left me a bit of a teary mess, and then I had to surrender a lovely bottle of shower gel that smelt like macaroons because it was over 100ml, but I was remarkably chillaxed while waiting to board in departures.

What made it really brilliant though was the fact that after telling the cabin crew that it was my first flight and I was a wee bit nervous they took such amazing care of me. And if anyone from Virgin Atlantic reads this, please give Ash a massive bonus because he went above and beyond the sort of care I thought I'd get. How so? The dude came and sat next to me during takeoff so that he could reassure me and explain everything that was going on. Utterly amazing, and I owe him (as well as all the other crew members) a massive thank you for making my first time in the air so smooth and uneventful.

Plus he smuggled me some Hagen Daas ice cream when everyone else in economy had to go without.

So anyway I'm here in LA now and it's ... Well, a bit weird to be honest. I've only met (and even then only briefly) one other person who's doing the training, so I kind of feel like I'm in limbo a bit. Kind of like a very lonely holiday for one. I keep trying to engage the bar staff in conversation just so I can talk to someone.

But registration and orientation is on Sunday so everyone will be here by then and we can get on with the task of learning to be yoga teachers, which I know isn't going to be easy, but will, I'm sure, be a totally memorable life changing experience.

In the meantime, I've made good use of my one full day to be foot loose and fancy free in LA (until mid-June) by scouting out the local shops for supplies, grabbing my first stateside Grande Misto, and jumping on the bus to go to Redondo Beach, where as a massive fan of The OC I made a pilgrimage to the location that was used as the Bait Shop club venue.

I also saw a seal in the bay (I think it actually stuck its tongue out at me - RUDE) and woke a lovely old lady up when she nodded off at the bus stop. Oh, and I've started on my much needed tan (the last thing I want is to get a reputation as London's pastiest yoga teacher).

A couple of other things: everyone here is *so* polite, and the city (at least what I've seen of it) is remarkably litter free; London take note please. That said, the frequency of the buses is bloody awful. I'm never going to complain about having to wait five minutes for a bus in London again (not that I actually use them that much, but still...).

Anyway, I'm not totally convinced I'm actually going to get used to being in this place, but we'll see. I just want to get going with the yoga please!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Leaving on a jet plane

That title? Unbelievably not a joke.

I'm writing this post sitting in my Mini dealer on a chilly Thursday morning while Clubbie's getting an MOT. By the time you read it, I'll be on my way to Los Angeles.

Why? Well, it all comes back to something that happened around this time last year when we did a charity class at yoga and one of my teachers let me teach a posture - y'know, just for a giggle. It was a giggle, but then when I mentioned it to another of my teachers he said 'well why don't you think about doing it for real? I think you'd be great.'

I don’t know about you, but when someone says they think you’ll be great at something it tends to stick in your mind. So, almost exactly a year down the line from that moment and I'm doing it. I'm going to LA to train as a Bikram yoga teacher.

Obviously there's a bit more to it than having a bit of a laugh at a class last year and being given a nice compliment - losing my job certainly made me think about it more seriously because what better time is there to think about such a massive life changing event than when you find yourself at a crossroads in your career?

I won't lie, it's not been an easy decision to make because first and foremost it's not the cheapest thing in the world to do. But perhaps more than that, as I've mentioned before, I'm utterly petrified of flying and you have to do the training in LA. So I have to fly. I did look into other methods of getting there, but even I have to concede that 11 hours of screaming on a plane is preferable to five days on a cargo ship followed by a couple of days on a train.

What's brilliant about all this is that it's not a complete career change and I'll be able to carry on with editorial work as well as teaching yoga. In fact, I think they'll compliment each other rather well, and it means I can actually be a bit picky about exactly what editorial work I choose to take on. I've been working on a couple of books for a London-based publisher these last few months which has been an utterly delightful experience, and so far removed from the stresses I experienced in the last few months of my job before it spectacularly imploded. The chap I've been working for has told me he’d like me to help out on some other stuff when I'm back, which is great; quite frankly, if the only publishing work I ever did again was for him I'd be a happy bunny.

As for yoga, well, for someone who writes for a living I'm finding it difficult to put into words just how supportive and brilliant everyone at the studio - staff and fellow yogi alike - has been since I told them I wanted to go on training. They've given me advice, let me teach postures to get used to standing in front of a class, and generally just made me feel like I've made absolutely the right decision. The studio owner wrote me a lovely letter of recommendation. They're throwing a party on Saturday to send us off (another lovely fellow student is also going to training) in proper BYC style.

So I'm off for a bit. Training is an intensive nine-week course, plus I've got a couple of days either side just to hang out in LA which incredibly, and very conveniently, is the one place in the world I've actually always wanted to visit, so that's nice. I've already used Google maps to find the nearest Starbucks and a bookshop so large it'll probably make me cry. I'd like to say I'll try to blog while I'm out there, but the truth is I honestly don't think I'll get the chance. That being the case, expect a couple of epic posts sometime around the end of June when I'm back and my tiny brain has had time to process the whole experience. In the meantime, if you're missing your occasional hit of Tim over the next couple of months and want to know how things are going, feel free to follow me on Twitter (what do you mean you're not already?) or Facebook me, as I'm more likely to tweet or fire off short status updates reassuring everyone that I'm not dead. Or why not check out the Bikram Yoga Surbiton website? It's a new studio being opened by two of my favourite teachers, and I'm honoured to be writing the official studio blog for them. I've cued up a few posts to go live while I'm away and I won't lie, I think they're pretty damn good (modest much?).

Anyway, I think that's about it for the moment. Behave yourselves while I'm gone and I'll see you on the other side.