“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistance. Talent will not. There is nothing more common then unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world if full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are Omnipotent.”

– Joe Strummer

an eventful week (or, “a week full of events”)

Last Thursday we returned on the train from York to Doncaster, enjoying one last chance to experience the UK with the carefree attitude of souvenir-shopping tourists. No longer was there a life to plan.

Friday we enjoyed one last dinner with my aunt and uncle, our gracious hosts during this two month stint of ego, pride and ambition.

Saturday we flew. (Highlights of said flight included, as always: 1. watching terrible movies you normally have too must self-respect to consider, and 2. walking the tightrope that is the threat of deep-vein thrombosis.)

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Sunday I awoke at four-thirty in the morning because jet lag will fuck you up so bad that were I a luchador, I would seriously consider the name “El Jet Lag.” Later, I public-transited my ass downtown with a new-found respect for a metro system that allows you scenic views of something other than centuries-old coal dust-blackened tunnels. There, I was interviewed by Sad Magazine for fantasy fiction contest-related reasons that will become apparent in the next week or so when they go to print.

Monday it was back to work. My routine returned quickly although my confidence did not. I spent the better part of the day fielding questions, simpering at surprised faces, and feeling like a twat everytime I said words like “loo” or “trousers” (or “twat”). Meanwhile, Husband was on the apartment hunt!

Tuesday we viewed a flat an apartment. (See? I did it again! I honestly typed out “flat” because apparently I am an asshole now.) We were back in New West because, as we learned by unexpectedly comparing everywhere we went in Britain to it, New West was that girl next door we never knew we were in love with until she went off and married the high school quarterback.

Wednesday we signed the lease because Vancouver kicks Britain’s arse ass in the rental world. No bureaucracy, just a landlord who took a shine to our wholesome visage. The same day, we bought our new car and welcomed a new nephew into the world.

Which brings us full-circle to Thursday.

That’s all I’ve got. How’ve you been?

on the embarrassing act of coming home

Today we fly back to Vancouver. The great experiment – one might say – has failed.

I know that over the next week, the explanation will boil itself down to an easy deflection: one or two lines doing their best to contain both logic and pride.

It took us several days and a good dose of demoralization to finally come to the conclusion to come home. We weighed pros and cons, painted competing visions of the future, and tried to think it through in the most logical way possible. We gave ourselves time, and gave ourselves perspective. This was a decision we did not want clouded by such temporary factors as culture shock or bureaucratic annoyances, or faulty expectations.

In the end, all logic seemed on the side of going home. The only sincere mark in the stay column was embarrassment / wounded pride.

In the time we’ve been here, we found the plan shifting constantly, just as what’s-her-vampire-face’s visions shifting constantly in Twilight. (Ugh. I can’t believe I just used Twilight as a reference point.) The last – to sign a six-month lease in Hebden Bridge and keep looking for jobs – slowly crumbled as we started to think “What then?” What if we simply didn’t get jobs? Two months here and barely a bite. Sure, I got a job at a bookshop, but that was just not feasible with the cost of living in London. And I applied for about five or six bookshop jobs and was only called for interviews for two of them. Of those two, I only got the one job.

At the end of the six months, with no money coming in, our savings would be gone. We’d come back home with nothing: absolutely nothing.

Several factors might not make that seem such a difficult position to face. Perhaps if we were younger? At thirty, the world has a different expectation of you. Coming back broke and unemployed and likely stuck living with parents begins to look pathetic. We would not come to calls of “all hail the conquering travellers” but rather “why haven’t you sorted your life out yet?” At least that’s the implication you get in undertones and side-glances.

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Having spent most of the last ten years or so with this idea lodged in my mind that I would go work in England for a while, it actually feels something of a relief to be able to let that go. We can go home, and gone will be the feeling that everything is temporary. I can do those things I always wanted to do but didn’t because I never felt okay settling. I can sew cushions, paint furniture, get a cat. All those shitty kitchen utensils I had and never wanted to spend the money on replacing I can now replace.

There’s something of a weight gone. So, while things might not be the best case scenario we dreamed of when we left, we will still be in a better place than two months ago.

 

york wanderings

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to read or not to read: morrissey’s autobiography

One of the things I am going to miss about Britain (more on that later) is the fact that Morrissey releasing an autobiography warrants not just mentions on the news but also hardcore, “man-on-the-street” journalism. Truly, the public needed to know what the average Mancunian thought of Morrissey. We needed to know, I tell you!

I knew the autobiography existed beforehand, but never gave it that much thought. I like The Smiths, but I’m rather agnostic when it comes to Morrissey himself. It’s not that I don’t know whether he’s a genius or a douchebag, but I accept the fact that it is impossible for meagre human beings to actually know whether he’s a genius or a douchebag. (And most of what one considers post-punk proves the two are not mutually exclusive.)

However, watching the frontman for a Smiths cover band read excerpts, interspersed with what could have been the cast of Coronation Street singing the praises of praise-worthy singing, made me think I might actually want to pick up this tome. But on the other hand…. do I?

41hB6XoG4DL._Pro: Exciting revelations like he was targeted by the Special Branch and he never had a serious relationship until he was thirty-five.

Con: Give it a week and these revelations will be on his Wikipedia page.

Pro: He uses phrases like “Kafka-esque.”

Con: See above.

Pros: It’s been heralded in some reviews with such laudits as “the best written musical autobiography since Bob Dylan’s Chronicles.” (The Telegraph)

Cons: But The Independent called it “droning narcissism and the whine of self-pity.”

Pro: I really like The Smiths because I am a cliche apparently.

Con: It looked really long when they showed it on TV.

Pro: I really like the Penguin Classics cover.

Con: And the fact that it’s just called Autobiography.

Wait, but I said I liked that. But it is rather pretentious without much substance other than the pretension itself, which is really kind of the point… but… medium… message… art… music… brain… knot….

Oh crap. I will just have to wait until we get to the Manchester airport, where it will inevitably be on every wire rack in every W.H. Smith’s across that aerial sprawl, and decide then.

british bureaucracy for the impatient

It’s been a week on and we’ve yet to hear anything from the estate agent. It’s been more than a month since the first job applications began and we’ve yet to hear anything from potential employers.

Is our luck running low(er)?

Or are we victims of the infamous British bureaucracy?

It’s something we noticed rather quickly yet it has increased in its frustration. There’s a middle-man to everything. As difficult as apartment-hunting was back home, at least it only comprised the following steps:
1. Call landlord to arrange viewing
2. View apartment and sign application
3. Landlord phones you to say, “you can move in Saturday”

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Here it is thus:
1. Ring up an estate agent
2. Estate agent tells you it’s already been let but they don’t take down the posting because fuck-you-that’s-why
3. End up on a mailing list where you get ten spam emails and two phone calls a day with the estate agent trying to flog you other flats
4. Do this several times and end up on several mailing lists
5. Finally find a flat that is available, arrange to see it
6. See the flat, decide to apply, but that means you agree you have to pay up front because you’re still on the job hunt
7. Wait for the estate agent to ring the landlord to see if this is okay, even though the only person benefiting from six months’ rent in advance is the landlord herself
8. Pay your two hundred pounds agent fees
9. Discover the estate agent doesn’t even check the references themselves and outsources it to a referencing company even though we don’t need a credit check because we’re paying up front so all someone needs to do is email our old landlord to check that we never broke anything.
10. Wait and wait and wait

As the job hunt grows bleaker and bleaker, we can’t help but wonder if a similar form of bullshit exists for recruitment agencies on which to blame the delays. Otherwise, we’re just unemployable in this country. That’s a distinct possibility. Doesn’t keep the job-seekers spam out of my inbox, however.

The options now seem thus: rent a flat (eventually) and keep up the (possibly futile) job search while our savings dwindle, or cut our losses and go home, pride bruised and bleeding, but finances intact.

The reality is, we’ve decided that we don’t want to stay here forever. I could elaborate, but that’s what it’s come too. We like it here, but can’t see making a life of it. If we could, perhaps that might change things.

hebden bridge settlings

We’ve applied for a flat in Hebden Bridge, a West Yorkshire town that boasts these superlatives:

Coolest Place to Live in Britain

Wettest Place in Britain

Lesbian Capital of Britain

Britain’s “Suicide Central”

and…

Best Town in Britain
Aviary Photo_130255507719912511It’s the Commercial Drive of Britain. Wait, no, the Victoria of Britain. No, the Mount Pleasant. But it has lots of hiking, so maybe that makes it the North Vancouver…?
Aviary Photo_130255508017252470Regardless, it’s a lovely town full of independent shops and hippies. Perhaps not quite as hippie-filled as Vancouver, but perhaps nowhere is. And so much remains to be seen.
Aviary Photo_130255509140489710We are just waiting for the paperwork to go through and then the flat is ours! (NOTE: certainly something may and most likely will go wrong!)

Aviary Photo_130256251661120379After a quick furnishing from Ikea, we shall be moved in and cosy. Then it is all the organic food, art fairs, and nature walks we could want!
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scottish wanderings

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“Life is easy to chronicle, but bewildering to practice.”

― E.M. Forster, A Room With A View (1908)