2012: The Year in Review

I've been seeing various posts like this around the Internet and wasn't going to write one myself. But then I decided that 2012 was quite possibly the best year of my life, so if any year deserves to be reviewed, it's this one.

1. I kicked off the year by traveling to London for a semester abroad...

2. ...And, within a few weeks, was being interviewed for a volunteer position with London 2012 Ceremonies.

3. ...And then I became a volunteer with London 2012 Ceremonies. Best thing that's ever happened to me.

4. I made the most amazing friends. They swept me off my feet. Literally. Multiple times.

5. I fulfilled a lifelong dream and backpacked through Europe! On this trip, I;

  • Visited Copenhagen, Denmark, which has been a goal of mine since 4th grade.
  • Frolicked in Olympic stadiums in Munich and Berlin.
  • Went to the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee and the Olympics Museum.
  • Walked around in a concentration camp.
  • Traveled between countries by train.
  • Lived out of a backpack for three weeks.

6. I passed all of my British classes!

7. I went to London for the Olympics. While it sucked to not be able to get a visa and stay to volunteer over the summer, I wouldn't trade my experience as a spectator for anything in the world.

8. I somehow managed to juggle an internship, a virtual internship, a weekly writing job, and my job at the gym in addition to a class for about a month. Then the virtual internship ended and... I kept doing everything else. And it was REALLY HARD.

9. I survived football season as a sport information intern with the UM athletic department. No small feat, I tell you. And that week or two of basketball/football season overlap? I may have gotten sick, but I did it!

10. I survived the apocalypse. Who's laughing now, Mayans?

The prospect of 2013 makes me kind of sad because it's not an Olympic year, and it's also the first time in my life where I have no idea what I'll be doing. I graduate in May, and then... Russia? Grad school at home? Getting a job? To say I'm not sure is an understatement. But being without a concrete plan means I've got lots of options and, as Herb Brooks once said, "great moments are born from great opportunity."

Bring it, 2013!

A Year Ago Today

I'm big on important dates. (I sat here for five minutes trying to figure out how to make that sound like I'm not talking about going-out-with-boys dates, but it's just not happening.) I like to remember when things happened.

I got my first Endurance callback on April 14th, 2005 (and another one on the same day in 2006). The first day of filming was July 31st, 2006, and I got sent home on August 8th. I graduated high school on June 28th, 2009 (the same day that Billy Mays died. Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett died three days earlier, which was the night of my prom. Fun fact of the day). I moved into my freshman dorm on August 18th (which is my brother's birthday, a fact I will never stop feeling bad about) in 2009. The London 2012 Opening Ceremony was on July 27th, 2012.

And exactly one year ago -- December 20th, 2011 -- I filled out the London 2012 Ceremonies volunteer application.

And look how hopeful and naive I was!

Actually, I just didn't realize that my visa expired in June. Oops? Luckily for me, Laura decided to process my application anyway. We were supposed to be eligible to work in the UK through November to volunteer at all, but... oops? Hah. I think it worked in my favor that Laura is an American living in the UK. When May and June rolled around and I told people I was getting kicked out of the country, they all kind of wondered how I was let in to volunteer in the first place. But then they threatened to kidnap me so I wouldn't have to leave, so I think any indiscretion was forgiven. ;)

I had no idea how freaking awesome THIS would be! Half an hour from closing the door to my flat to signing in at 3 Mills. Best commute ever.

Again, look at me, being all "WEEEEEE I can work at the Olympic ceremonies!" Nope.

Heh, I chose all operations roles. Silly me. I'm so glad casting plucked me from the pool!

This is where I ended up: 

It's kind of crazy that I was filling this out so long ago. Pretty soon I'll be able to say I was in London a year ago, which is unbelievably bittersweet. I miss it desperately and would go back in a heartbeat (seriously. If I had the money, man...). So while the constant ache in my chest sucks, it's hard to look back on my London 2012 experience and do anything but smile. And maybe flail a little bit. 

Because, seriously, how was that real?

Sochi or Bust!

I'm a pretty motivated person. Pretty average when it comes to the day-to-day, sure, but when there's something that I really want? Come hell or high water, I make it happen. Like Endurance; somehow this skinny, bespectacled, introverted kid with no prior TV experience beat out 10,000 other applicants to score a spot on her favorite show in the world. And working for the Olympics; this nutjob couldn't get a job with the US Olympic Committee, so she up and flew halfway across the world and spent four months volunteering with London 2012 Ceremonies.

Me and some fellow L2012C casting department vollies at the Dagenham rehearsal site. :)

Where did she go? She was cool. I miss her.

Basically, I found the perfect thing for me to do after graduation. It's a new school called the Russian International Olympic University. It's a one-year program for a master's degree in sport management, and your modules are Olympics-focused. As if that wasn't enough, it's in Sochi, from September 2013-June 2014. So, while the Olympics are in Sochi in February... follow the breadcrumbs. It makes me all goosebumpy and flaily just thinking about it.

Perfect, right? Absolutely flawless for everything I want to do in my life. Except it costs $30,000, none of which I have. So I haven't been thinking about it like it's a legitimate possibility. When I tell people about it, I say, "It's going to sound ridiculous, but..." and wave it off like it's not for real. A pipe dream, if you will.

But when I was home for Thanksgiving, my wonderful cousin Molly and I were talking about it, and I mentioned that I can't afford it. She waved me off like it was nothing. "You'll find a way," she said. "You always do."

(This is also why Molly doubles as my best friend.)

Hearing that was like a slap in the face in the best way possible. I do always find a way, don't I? So... why have I been so quick to write off RIOU because of $30,000? There are ways to pay for grad school; grants, loans, scholarships, whatever. I just have to find them. And hell, I would basically give a limb to be able to go to this school. It's like a higher power was like, "Hm, what would Darci's ideal life look like after she graduates from college? Let's do that!" Nothing should be stopping me from making this happen for myself. Nothing.

So I have decided to find the girl that made it onto a TV show with just a video camera and a dream, and the girl that found herself at Olympics opening ceremony rehearsals in London because she refused to take no for an answer.

She and I are going to Sochi.

RIP Jeff Blatnick

I got some sad news today; Jeff Blatnick died.

He was an Olympic wrestler who won gold in 1984. Now, I don't know the names of many Olympic wrestlers, let alone ones who competed almost three decades ago. But a year and ten days ago I was reading a book called Awaken the Olympian Within and came across Jeff Blatnick's story (click the link for the post I wrote about it). It left me moved and emotional and tearstained, and I suddenly had an immense attachment to a man who competed in a sport I rarely watch a full seven years before I was even born.

I don't remember the last time I'd even though about his story in the past year. But upon seeing tweets mourning his passing, it all came crashing back. This is the first time in a long time that the death of someone famous has personally meant something to me and I had to take a moment to myself to be sad.

There's really no point to this post, nor do I have anything else to report. Jeff Blatnick died, and I'm sad.  That's about the extent of it. But this is my small tribute to a man who overcame an Olympic boycott and cancer to become the best in his sport, and made a 20-year-old girl cry on a plane to Salt Lake City.

Rest in peace, Jeff.


Winter Wonderland

I'm one of those oddballs that actually enjoys winter, and the winter Olympics is no exception. Just like I prefer coats and boots to humidity and sweating, I'll take skating and sliding over running and swimming any day of the week. And, yes, it's barely fall (and still well over 80 degrees here in Miami), but I spend the full year and a half lead-up to every winter Olympics in a perpetual wintry mood.

Has anyone else heard that the Utah Olympic Exploratory Committee (because apparently that's a real thing) has recommended to the governor and Salt Lake City's mayor that Salt Lake City should bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics? Just me? Well, you're welcome.

I've been a little bit depressed ever since the USOC announced that there'd be no American Olympics bids for 2020. Because, really, 20+ years is way too long to go without an Olympics, America! And 2026 is still a bonafide lifetime away (I'll turn 35 during those Games -- holy crap), but Utah would need a formal bid process in place by... 2016. Okay, so, that's still way too far in the future. But if that's the best we can hope for than I'll start getting excited now, because the atmosphere of home field advantage at the Olympics is absolutely incredible. I never really felt it until I was there, but I can't even fathom how awesome it would be to cheer on Team USA in the USA. If you think going to a football game and cheering the home team feels like camaraderie, imagine that the whole country is the stadium.

Again, you're welcome. ;)

But in the meantime, we've still got Sochi to look forward to (in less than 500 days!). In the terms of an Olympic host city that's, like, tomorrow. So some exciting stuff is happening over there! The Sochi 2014 Winter Games Facebook page put up some photos of the Adler Arena and "Iceberg" Skating Palace.

So pretty! I love how the clean lines and whiteness of the building feel and look like ice.

Also recently released are the Sochi pictograms!

Call me a nerd (guilty as charged), but I'm so excited about these. They're ADORABLE! I said it in my post about Sochi.Park and I'll say it again -- I am totally head over heels with the Sochi design scheme. The font and the colors are perfect, and I absolutely love that the pictograms were inspired by the ones used at the Moscow Games in 1980.

Now, aren't you excited for winter too? :)

Breaking News (Sort Of)!: Co-Ed Swim Relays?

I can't believe I still haven't blogged about the Paralympics. I'm a little bit of a failure. I actually haven't even finished watching the closing ceremony yet; I'm about 38 minutes into it and have been for, oh, three weeks now. It's just so hard to find two hours of free time! But that IS coming... eventually.

In the meantime, however, I stumbled across something today that I'm actually kind of fascinated by. According to an article on NBCsports.com, there was a co-ed 4x50m relay at the swimming World Cup in Dubai today. Teams will be made up of two men and two women and each team can put together their legs however they want, which could mean men swimming against women depending on each team's strategy/strengths. Co-ed relays might end up in seven other major swim meets later this year and, if all goes well, they could eventually show up in the world championships and the Olympics.

Basically, we're very far from having this event in the Olympics, since it would have to be a test event first (and I'm not even sure if Rio is far enough in the future for it to happen there). But WOW. I'm unbelievably thrilled at just the possibility!

Had I even thought about co-ed events in the Olympics until today? Honestly, I'm not even sure. For the most part, gender in sport is looked at from a "men vs. women" viewpoint. And yes, men are overall better athletes, so one man swimming against one woman would be an unfair race, assuming they're the same caliber athlete. World record times for men and women in 50m races differ by two or three seconds. This is pretty on-par with most sports; men just have an advantage.

But if teams are composed of men AND women... well, that's not really an issue anymore. What's a three-seconds-slower time if another team also swims a three-seconds-slower time? It's not like swimming is a contact sport; the women are in no danger of getting laid out by a man twice their size. If these girls can swim fast, they can hang with the boys. Pretty simple, no? The German team at the World Cup had a woman swim their anchor leg and they won by over two seconds.

Call me biased, but I think this could do really great things for women's sports in general. Women can be fantastic athletes, and throwing them into co-ed competition will prove that point. So I'm on board purely for this reason alone; I want to see girls kick some butt. But look at the strategy that's involved!
While smart money and zealous assumptions would suggest an American team made up of famous names like Michael Phelps, Missy Franklin, and Ryan Lochte… a little math says that none of those gold medal swimmers would have made the cut for a hypothetical American squad in London.
Why? When you look at the results you realize that the disparity between men’s and women’s times in the backstroke and breaststroke is greater than in the butterfly and freestyle by a full second or two, so you’d want to put girls in the latter two strokes and the men in the first two.
In London that probably would have meant the Americans starting with Matt Grevers, who won gold with an Olympic record in the 100m back in London, followed by breaststroke bronze-medalist Brendan Hansen in the second leg. Then you’d definitely put world record holder Dana Vollmer in the butterfly (Team USA’s biggest advantage) and Jessica Hardy, who finished seventh in the 50m freestyle as the anchor.
Sure, you might not want to anchor with your weakest swimmer, so maybe you swap her for Cullen Jones – who won silver in the men’s 50m free – but then you risk giving up an extra second or two by swapping out Hansen for Rebecca Soni in the breaststroke. And can you really leave Phelps, Lochte, Missy, Soni, and Nathan Adrian off this team?
Mind = BLOWN. I mean, Michael Phelps is retired now, but still. I'm so intrigued! Can this PLEASE happen?!

What do you think?

Confidential Ceremonies Things: The Epilogue

Ya know, it's a lot harder to find time to blog when writing a post involves more than Command-C and Command-V. But I want to talk about the closing ceremony before it's completely ancient history (sob), and I think my current feeling of wanting to be productive yet simultaneously wanting to procrastinate is conducive to this task. So onward, ho!

I last left off with my departure from London, but my saga continued briefly when I returned in August and got to visit Dagenham one last time. :) It was such a trip being back there. I got to break out the ol' high vis vest and workforce ID and everything was the same... until I got there and walked into the workforce volunteer break area and found it full of costumes. Uhhh. So, things were slightly different. Only one field of play was in use, and there were all these giant metal props everywhere -- remember the London skyline?

Well, this is what we had at Dagenham:

Eventually I found my way, reunited with my fellow volunteers and got my first... er, not-work assignment. To get into Olympic stadium on the night of the ceremony, each performer had to have a specific sticker on their accreditation passes. So I got to hand them out! I really wanted to take one for myself, even though I didn't have the accreditation pass, nor was I going to be there on the night of the ceremony. :P I did that for a bit, and then got to not-work a check-in desk again! So much nostalgia!

While this was all going on, there was some buzz about the talent on site that day. The dress rehearsal was for the first half of the ceremony, so (in theory) all of the singers featured would have to rehearse. I caught a brief glimpse of OneDirection and the Spice Girls while I was in the tent! They were far away, though, and not singing. But it was still really exciting! I'm not sure why the Spice Girls were there, though. They performed in the second half. Hmmmm.

The Spice Girls. This is actually basically what I saw of them! :)
But anyway, I was in the check-in tent for a while before being sent into the circus tent to help wrangle the little kids while they waited for rehearsal to start. Jo was one of the staff members in charge of them so I got to hang out with her! Her group was part of the Thames during Waterloo Sunset -- this part was completely ignored by American TV, of course. During that song, the kids (wearing glittery blue costumes) ran out into the skyline and were the Thames. It was adorable. I can't find any photos of it, but here's what the kids looked like.

Photo from blog.sallymckay.co.uk
Now just imagine hundreds of them!

After some time spent in the circus tent, we took the kids outside to wait by their vom (entrance onto the field of play, not vomit). I didn't really have anything to do anymore, so I got to just hang out here and watch rehearsal. I saw everything from the beginning until the Running Up That Hill/Here Comes the Sun bit in honor of the new IOC members and the volunteers... but of course NBC decided to cut this out of their broadcast. I have no words for my anger. So, in terms of American TV, the last part I saw was the giant John Lennon head.

While OneDirection had left by the time rehearsals started, I DID get to see some singers actually perform! I saw Emeli Sande, Madness, and I think Pet Shop Boys (I'd never heard of them before so I'm not sure if they were actually there, but someone was singing West End Girls, so...). Madness actually walked pretty close to me, and I actually know Our House, so that was exciting. :) If you recall, the beginning of the ceremony was a street party with trucks full of people wearing different colors -- I was watching from near the blue trucks, diagonally to the right of the front of the stage.

There was a break between rehearsals, and this was when I stumbled across Helen, a fellow volunteer, and got some AMAZING stories about the summer. Oh my gosh. Okay, get ready for all of this. The opening ceremony rehearsed at Olympic Stadium for weeks and months, so she said that going to the stadium became just a normal part of life. Excuse me while I choke on my jealousy and the sheer epicness of that statement. And, as huge as the stadium looked on TV, she said it actually felt more intimate than Dagenham. Go figure!

I asked her about what her duties were and when she told me, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. All the royals and dignitaries and such have their own special box in the stadium, right? Somehow Helen was one of the stand-ins for them during rehearsals. So she casually got to sit in the Queen's box. And she ALSO was a stand-in for one of the Olympic flagbearers. You know, the really important British figures that got to carry the big Olympic flag into the stadium? Yeah, she was one of them.

I actually can't. But, as jealous as I was (and still am, because holy crap), I really really like Helen and was so glad that she got to do such awesome things. She was so excited about it when she was telling me, and she's one of the people that cried when she saw the Pandemonium pre-vis video for the first time, so I'm glad someone who cares that much got such a cool honor as to be the freaking QUEEN OF ENGLAND.

We watched rehearsal again after that -- Madness had left, but Emeli Sande performed again. I watched from near the yellow/orange trucks. It rained for like five minutes, just to give me the full Dagenham experience again before I left. ;P I don't think I have any new stories from this rehearsal, but here are some pictures of the bit NBC cut out.

I liked this dance and I saw these guys rehearse once or twice, so I was doubly upset that it wasn't shown! Oh, and I was also a volunteer, so I was actually triply upset. Boo.

Despite NBC's suckiness (yeah, I said it), I loved watching the ceremony on TV. I had half of it to know what was coming and half of it to have little to no idea what was coming and when. The only parts I knew about in the second half were the Spice Girls and Annie Lennox. The Annie Lennox performance was actually what I was looking forward to the most. I was at that group's first rehearsal when they announced that they'd be performing with Annie Lennox singing live (so I've known that secret for ages!) and were paired into their partnerships & started learning the dance. And, poetically, they were the final rehearsal I got to see (and the final group whose bibs I got to collect) before I left London. Watching them perform in the ceremony was like watching my children all grown up. :) I'm also completely obsessed with that song and listen to it multiple times a day, but sshhhhh.

And that's it, for real. Wow. I have no more Olympics secrets. I feel so uninteresting.

Sochi 2014, anyone?


Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the final entry about my behind-the-scenes experience with London 2012 Ceremonies.

Entry 4
 I’m writing this while sitting in Heathrow Airport and trying not to cry while listening to my London 2012 playlist. Let’s just keep this in mind. 
 After that first shift at Dagenham, I worked four more, each weekend that was remaining.
Gutted BMX was cut from the Olympics opening ceremony
 I spent two Saturdays with the professional casting team. They deal with the pros, the people that are getting paid to perform, as opposed to the volunteer performers. It wasn’t the most busy or exciting of times, as I was the only volunteer most of the time and there wasn’t much to do. I was basically told by Andrew (who is absolutely lovely) to just kind of make myself available. So I did a lot of watching and following around and not much actual work. Both times I was rescued by vols to help with bib collection at the end of the shift. But both times pro casting was dealing with BMX bikers, which was really cool. They kept warning me that they might be a little boisterous, and while they were a little rowdy, they were so mellow and caused zero problems. My job was to send them into the circus tent, and they went without complaint. The first week I got to watch auditions for regular cyclists as well, and on the second week I was a flag marshal for the BMX rehearsal. I got to stand out on the course with a big red flag that I had to wave if someone fell. Of course, they were all so good that it was completely unnecessary, so I basically got to stand there, look important, and watch some awesome BMX.
 It was FREEZING, though. That’s the thing about Dagenham – it’s a completely open area next to a wind farm. Needless to say, it’s always windy, and there’s really no shelter from the weather. On the first Saturday (and Sunday, for that matter), it was blisteringly hot and I got a little bit sunburned. But on the second weekend? FREEZING. And rainy! Oh man, on Sunday it rained all day and I had the late shift, so by the time I was there, the site was basically a lake. Rehearsals were cancelled due to rain, and the ones that did take place happened in the circus tent. You basically had to swim from tent to tent. 
 That last Dagenham shift was quite interesting. It was the day of the Diamond Jubilee flotilla, for one. And the cancelled rehearsals meant less to do, so Helga and I helped out in the costume department for a bit. They gave us a pin for our trouble, which was nice, and I got to write numbers in some costumes. It wasn’t fun work (lots of elbowing heavy fabric out of the way), but while watching the Opening Ceremony I’ll get to say I put my hands in some of the workers’ pants, which’ll be good for a laugh! There was also some food in there, which was a nice change. After we finished, of course, we had to sprint through the puddles and the pouring rain to get to the WFX volunteers break area, where we were met with a soggy Elle and Jo not long after. Bib collection was the WORST that night, which I thought was rather fitting. It was just a hot mess. But then we got CEREMONIES T-SHIRTS afterwards! I literally wanted to cry with happiness. A shirt is all I wanted. :) 
 That was my last scheduled shift, but if I thought that was the end, I was again mistaken! Jo dropped a shift at 3 Mills during the week that she delegated to me, and Sara B. told me to come back into the office on Friday because she wanted me to. :) I mean, twist my arm! 
 The shift I actually picked up was really cool, as it was with the pros again. There wasn’t a ton to do, but I got to watch a good chunk of their rehearsal. It was a group of dancers from the Thanks Tim segment (the "now" music), and OH MY GOD. TALENTED. 
 My final final shift was last night, and it was the usual 3 Mills procedure; scanning in, some bib work, office stuff, and bib collection. The scanning was very simple, I got to work with ID badges AND the database in the office, and bib collection went flawlessly in both studios. Go figure, right? 
"See you in Rio!" :)
 It was ROUGH, though. Sara and Glenda kept hugging me and threatening to kidnap me and hold me hostage so I wouldn’t have to leave. Jo made cupcakes in my honor. Shelly said I’ve been “consistently fantastic” (her exact words). And everyone signed a card for me! I haven’t read it yet – they told me to wait for the plane, though I might read it at the gate. I’m terrified. I’m going to be a complete mess. 
 AND, icing on the cake? I talked to Danny Boyle! Jo and Helen convinced me to go up to him before I left, so (after much prodding) I got over my awkwardness and did it. He was standing with a group of people, and Jo and Helen accompanied me on my quest. 
 “Mr. Boyle?” 
 “Oh, Danny, please. I’m not Mr. Boyle.” 
 Basically, that alone made him my favorite. But then I told him that this was my last shift because my visa was expiring and I was going back to America, and he exclaimed “well what the hell are you still doing here?!” Greatest. Ever. 
 I told him it was an honor to get to work on his production, and he thanked me for my contribution. Danny Boyle. Thanked me. For my contribution. To his ceremony. Let me just… have a moment. 
 He asked where I was going home to, and when I told him New York, he said his daughter is in college (Parsons) there and that it’s the one city in the world he’d live in besides London. I said “me too!” :P Then he asked for my name and offered me his hand to shake (DEAD), and wished me safe travels.   
 Then, when we were outside the studio and walking to the exit, he yelled “BYE DARCI!” from the back of studio 7. Like, across the lot. How. What. Why. Life. Can’t.
 And then… it was over. It was over, and I cried. I hugged everyone goodbye, got some contact info, signed out, and that was it. I’m still slightly in shock. 
 I’ve worked a nice round thirty shifts on the nose. I’ve watched auditions, and rehearsals for the industrial revolution, fields of plenty, dove bikes, BMX, NHS, the Annie Lennox dancers, TIM dancers for the ‘70s, swing out sisters, the Closing Ceremony street party and Here Comes the Sun, Pandemonium drummers, and probably more that I can’t even think of right now. 
 I’m terrible at closing reflections on things, but I can’t put into words how much this experience has meant to me. I got amazing professional experience and got to take the first step towards my dream while working with the most amazing people on the planet. I like to believe that there’s a reason for everything that happens, but for one of the few times in my life, I’m absolutely sure that I was exactly where I was meant to be and made the right decision. Coming to London for the Olympics was the best choice I’ve ever made, and I will cherish my time spent with the casting team until the day I die. 
 I can’t wait to watch the ceremonies. I’m so proud to have been a part of them, and I’m so proud of the people who are making it happen! So, to Penny, Shelly, Sarah-Ellen, Sara B., Glenda, Martin, Haith, Cheryl, Jenny, Trish, Diana, Hannah, Kieran, Vanessa, Lesley, Andrew, Will, Billy, Laura, Grace, Pete, Solomon, Rhian, Leslie Ann, Steve, everyone else at London 2012 Ceremonies, and every single volunteer – thank you from the bottom of my heart!

The end.

(...Except not really. Now I get to write about the closing ceremony and my return visit to Dagenham, so stay tuned! But in the meantime, pardon me as I wipe away a tear brought on by reading all of this again. And, okay, HOW COOL IS DANNY BOYLE?) 


We're getting to the good stuff now! There's one more pre-written entry, and then I get to talk about what I did and saw when I visited during the Games. :)

But until then... Dagenham!

Entry 3

5/19/12 – Wow, I have been majorly slacking with updating this, and oh, how things have changed!
Oy, I don’t even know where to begin. Alright. Let’s see. 
 Obviously, what I thought was going to be my last shift was not. At all. Not even close. I think that was the point where they let people go if they were being unreliable, slash allowed people to drop out/not schedule any more shifts if they didn’t want to do it anymore. I only had a couple of shifts in March, since I had all of my major semester assignments due, plus all sorts of things going on and keeping me really busy. But it was about one per week. 
 By that point, auditions had pretty much ended, and we were well into callbacks. Things got pretty dull for awhile, and we’d be validating for about an hour at most and then not even have an audition to stick around and watch. We were put to use during Games Maker interviews, though, where Shelly gave me a clipboard to hold and told me to direct people. So that was really exciting! I also got to wristband people out in the tent at the entrance, and be a sort of shuttle system and take people back to the lobby. Shaking things up a little bit.
Then I was away for three weeks, and by the time I got back, there was an induction for volunteers during REHEARSALS! This is still legitimately the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me. I get to watch ceremony rehearsals. It’s been almost a month since I’ve been doing it and it’s not getting old.
 The induction was for a new round of people, basically, and it was at 3 Mills, so I didn’t get much new information. Plus, I worked it, validating the volunteers as they arrived, so I didn’t have to stay for much of it. There’s a slightly different process for rehearsals, as everyone’s already in the system. New IDs were being printed, so each performer has to be given their ID plus Oyster cards for travel, have the correct forms collected, etc. So we’re not working with costumers anymore – they’re in the workshop now, actually working on costumes. How freaking cool is that?
 Shifts are slightly longer now, since they need us at the end of rehearsals to collect the performers’ bibs. So we validate when they come in, and then we get taken up into the office to help out there. I’ve done tons of alphabetizing, sorting IDs, filing, database work, bib sorting, etc. It may not be the most interesting work, but it actually feels like I’m helping the cause, ya know? It’s all stuff that needs to get done. 
 Now rehearsals are starting to take place at Dagenham, which is the 1:1 venue. This means that the rehearsals can take place at full scale – there are two real-sized fields of play there. It’s just this massive concrete space set up with makeshift offices and tents and such. It feels like a music festival, lol. Basically, this is where the performers learn the staging of the ceremony. In 3 Mills, they learned the choreography they do when they get to where they need to be. Dagenham is about learning how to get to where you need to be and when. 
 All volunteers have photo IDs now. So I’m an official IDed member of the L2012C workforce. I have my own Casting Team high-vis vest, with my name written on it any everything. And, apparently, all volunteers now are Games Makers.
 It’s truly a shame that my life has peaked so early. But hey, I can’t really complain.
Today was the first ever Dagenham rehearsal, and it was basically the longest day ever. I worked the morning shift, starting at 8:30, which meant waking up at 6:45 and taking the tube out to zone 5, aka the boonies. Seriously, it’s not even London anymore that far out. A handful of us get to scan in the hundreds of people showing up to rehearse, and then we kind of just do whatever we’re needed for. We got to staple things to some bibs at one point, and help out the catering team set up the various break areas. We got tons of breaks though, so I got to watch the NHS crew run around with their beds. 
 The shift was supposed to end at 2:30, but one of the groups that was rehearsing didn’t finish until 3, so I stayed late to help with bib collection at the end. Somehow, it was me and one other girl in charge of collecting 400 bibs and putting them in number order. It was absolute madness and took FOREVER, so I ended up not leaving until almost 4. It was an actual full-length work day. I absolutely loved it, though. Even though I completely missed lunch. 
 The actual paid staff, though, is there from 8 am until all rehearsals are over. I just want to call everyone’s attention to these fabulous people for a second. They work 12+ hour days every day. EVERY. DAY. Obviously they have a day off every now and then, or can leave early, but they’re working all the time. And this is going to continue until at least September. 
 And they’re seriously the nicest people you could ever imagine working with. They’re all just so upbeat and friendly and hilarious and welcoming and thankful… I love them all so, so much. Not only is it going to be rough leaving next month because it’s the Olympics, but I’m going to be gutted to leave these fantastic people. 
 As of right now, though, I’ve finally hit the acceptance stage of my grief, and am just going to work my butt off until I have to leave!

Stay tuned for the next installment, in which I'm forced out of the country and have a conversation with the brilliant and wonderful Danny Boyle. :)


Why yes, it's going to be titled in caps lock every time. Because a) it totally deserves to be, and b) that's actually how the document is titled on my computer.

I was going to post this next part ages ago, but as I was reading through it I realized that I had some Paralympics ceremony spoilers in there, so I had to wait. The Paralympics opening ceremony aired today and I'm now in the clear!

Entry 2

2/27/12 – Update time!

Since we last spoke, I picked up an extra shift and also helped out in the office. So, just to bring everyone (and myself) up to speed, I’ve now worked four validation shifts, one morning in the office, and have one shift remaining. Le sadface.

My third shift was pretty similar to the previous two, but busier. There were apparently a couple hundred more people coming through that day than there had been previously, so it was a pretty long shift. I was in booth 1 again, and the girl in booth 2 was Elle, who I bonded with during orientation! She had a Gryffindor scarf in her bag, so, ya know. This was her first shift, so it was cool to help her with first-day problems and watch her fangirl like I had been on Tuesday!

Seriously, I love that everyone is so excited. It makes me feel like my level of squee is normal!

We only stayed for a little bit of auditions after we finished. Elle had to leave to catch a train, and there were no other volunteers that stayed behind, so I didn’t want to be that one awkward person in the audience. I know, I know, I really could’ve stayed. But did I really need another day of getting “Love on Top” by Beyonce drilled into my brain?

My next shift was on Tuesday the 21st, which was my 21st birthday! I was so excited when Penny sent the email asking someone to pick it up – working at LOCOG was EXACTLY what I wanted to be doing on my birthday! When I told people there that it was my birthday, they all asked me what I was doing there. Um, the Olympics is the happiest place on earth. Didn’t you know? :P

That was a slightly different shift. We were into callbacks for the Olympics ceremonies, so everyone that was there had already been validated. All we had to do was scan their letter and bib, and then put in any information that was missing or incorrect, and sometimes retake a photo. That was it. And there were much less people, for obvious reasons, so it went REALLY quickly. Elle was there again, and we stuck around until the end of auditions.

It was different this time! Secret: there are going to be drummers in at least one of the ceremonies, so these auditions had people banging drumsticks on buckets. Some of them were obviously experienced and auditioned because of their drumming skills, but some had never touched a drum before in their lives. It was really cool, though a little less fun than the dancing, but there was the added benefit of not having a song stuck in my head when I left!

Oh wait, what other secret things have I know about that are going to be in the ceremonies? Rollerblading, rollerskating, skateboarding, ballet (pointe!), drums… and I think that’s it.

On Thursday, I was the volunteer casting department’s office monkey for a few hours. I did all the stereotypical “boring” work; photocopying, alphabetizing, filing, and Google mapping (though I’m not sure if that one’s all that stereotypical). I’m really glad I’m getting a taste of this now, because it’s really proving to me that if you love what you’re involved in, the boring jobs aren’t so boring. If I was photocopying for an organization I didn’t care about, I probably would’ve been bored out of my mind. But as long as something has the Olympic rings on it, I’m interested and happy. Not even kidding.

I was photocopying for a while; I had to make copies of the judging sheets for auditions for the Paralympic ceremonies. Funnily enough, the more boring jobs made me more privy to sensitive information than validating did. The judging sheets listed the roles they’re casting for, which included wheelchair dancers, ribbon dancers, something about Masque (I have absolutely no idea what that is), and something about the sea. Sea choreography, maybe? Not sure. Not much of it stuck with me, but I’ll be able to watch those ceremonies and recognize some stuff!

Then I got to file some paperwork. Woo! :P I was given some agreement forms that were signed by people that’ve been cast already, and sorted them into groups and filed them alphabetically. I also learned that whoever’s been doing this clearly doesn’t know their alphabet very well – I’m pretty sure Monica comes AFTER Matthew, but maybe that’s just me.

My final job was Google mapping routes from the studio to various schools in the area, but I’ve already talked about this part! Yay! Recapping is exhausting!

I only have one shift left, and I’m a little bit depressed. I really want to help out in the office more, but I actually have schoolwork to do now. I’m so tempted to say “forget it!” and volunteer, but there’s a responsible part of my brain that refuses to shut down and ignore things that will actually be graded.

To be continued!