exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

same as it ever was

by Jen at 11:07 am on 19.11.2011Comments Off
filed under: rant and rage

i’ve been watching the protests spread like a fire across my home country from afar – with cynicism-tinged pride. hoping fervently that the wild optimism of youth stoked by righteous anger is enough to effect real change. knowing in a stone-hardened part of my heart, that it is not.

the diversity of support for the protest by the masses of middle-class disenfranchised is astonishing – that so many who are, by all measures, still doing okay, yet feel the message of the #occupy movement resonates deeply with their growing disenchantment and fears for our future is astonishing. even more astonishing is the intense vitriol for the unemployed/unfortunate by those who want to defensively cling to the last shred of a tattered american dream – who have too much emotional investment in the idea that if you work hard enough in the u.s., you can succeed, to acknowledge the reality of what’s happening in front of their eyes.

but perhaps even more shocking, and more telling, than the attacks by the public, have been the attacks by police. over and over again, we’ve watched peaceful protesters be kettled, hit, pepper-sprayed, arrested. the police, who are meant to protect the public and prevent the breakdown of public order, are instead violently transgressing people’s constitutional right to peaceful assembly at the behest of those in power.

it would be even more shocking if only it wasn’t so painfully predictable. because this, after all, is what the plutarchy does. those in power attack those who attack the systems which keep them in power. it’s a pattern as old as the existence of society itself. yet for someone of my generation, who was a decade too late to witness the civil rights struggle, it is amazing to see it acted out in practice in my own country.

amazing and infuriating. because even as my own social justice passions are inflamed by the swelling crowds of the #occupy movement, the cynic in me knows that throughout history, the batons and gas and guns and shields have been all too successful in protecting the oligarchs who command them – whether democratically elected or not. what they cannot put down in spirit, they can easily crush in body.

i was also a generation too late for the vietnam protests – born 18 months after the horrifying, galvanising climax of the kent state massacre, where student protesters were gunned down in cold blood by the official forces in power. and as i watch video after video after video of brutality against the #occupy crowds exacted by armed people in uniform, forcibly trying to uproot a powerful idea that threatens to unseat those at the top, only one thought repeats: i hope to god i never witness anything like that in my lifetime.

but the cynic in me knows that the pattern that’s playing out before us is all too likely to end in bloodshed.

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not the worst thing

by Jen at 9:57 am on 15.11.2011Comments Off
filed under: mundane mayhem

i wrote this last summer when j and i were in paris, but hadn’t published it here until now. j and i are splitting up, and as awful as it is, it is not the worst thing. keeping comments off.

we were in paris, on holiday with the in-laws, when i first said the words, whispering in the dark across to the other uncomfortable sofa where he lay.

“i think we might need to get a divorce.”

he got up without a word, got his pack of cigarettes, went out onto the balcony. i joined him, watched the red glow of the cigarette as we gazed down together at the boulevard below. suddenly the will to stand drained out of my legs, and i collapsed, weeping so hard i felt i might turn inside out. all the disappointment and frustration and anger i’d been storing for months and years, rushing out of me in wracking, violent sobs. and below, people laughing, cars passing. and me thinking, how is it possible the world hasn’t come to a screeching, crashing halt? surely that would be appropriate.

nearly seventy percent of second marriages end in divorce. i think i must’ve read that before, but i never allowed the reality of it to penetrate my consciousness. naïveté. denial.

i don’t know yet, if my husband and i will split. but in the weeks that have passed since that night in paris that ended with the two of us desperately clutching each other on the balcony, trying not to drown in the waves of sorrow, i’ve come to know why that 70% figure is so true.

even a “good divorce”, an amicable divorce for all the right reasons that makes you both better, happier people, as mine was, leaves you scarred. even a “good divorce” is hell. it rips any sense of security out from under you, makes you confront the possibility of being completely and utterly alone, drains every ounce of foolish fairytale right out of your head. a divorce, even a “good divorce”, is the death of your shared dreams for home, family, and future. it’s a death, and you mourn it, and carry guilt and shame over it for a long while.

but as time passes and you begin to emerge from the blast-shadow the explosion left behind, the world begins to right itself. time moves on, and you tuck away the lessons learned, and you stand a little straighter knowing that you have survived the worst that love can throw at you. you think yourself stronger and wiser, as hemingway would say, “strong at the broken places”.

it’s dangerous knowledge.

it is dangerous knowing that divorce is not, in fact, the end of the world. that however painful the experience of a shattered marriage was, that however much it hurt to walk through those shards and pick up the pieces, that *you were okay*. dangerous how that “d” word, that word you thought you could never bring yourself to utter, that word that choked you for so long before you could finally, actually say it (because to say “divorce” out loud was to admit that it was really fucking happening)… it’s dangerous how close that word sits to the tip of your tongue after that.

divorce, which was once the very worst thing that had ever happened to you, is now no longer the worst thing that can happen to you.

more to the point, it’s not the worst thing that can happen to me. even with all the tears, even when to untangle my life from his would feel like flaying off my own skin, i know this much is true: it is not the worst thing that can happen to me. however bad it gets, i’ll be okay.

and somehow, that just makes it worse – the knowledge that the world will keep turning, people will keep laughing on the boulevards below. i will once again face the fears and learn the lessons, adding one more statistical failure to the punchline of life, but emerge and walk on stronger and wiser.

i know what i’m in for, and i know how unthinkably excruciating the dissolution of love can be. i know all this, and still i know it will be a hundred times worse – because i loved him more.

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always chasing men

by Jen at 8:49 am on 27.09.2011 | 1 Comment
filed under: like a fish needs a bicycle, rant and rage, this sporting life

it’s not that difficult to rile me up pre-coffee in the mornings, but few things have had me seeing red like the article i read this morning, where the IAAF (the governing athletics body) have decided to completely strip the current women’s world marathon record holder of her achievement. that’s right: back in 2003, Paula Radcliffe ran the London marathon faster than any female has ever run 26.2 miles… but that’s no longer considered the world record.

why, you ask? what could have possibly come to light to require such a drastic move? what did Paula Radcliffe do? what rule could she have breached?

well, none. it’s just that the IAAF have decided, with the benefit of eight years of hindsight, that it was too easy for her – because it was a mixed race, you see, and she *got to run behind a man*. that was clearly an unfair advantage. and so they’ve taken that record away.

“you know that race you ran 8 years ago, where *you ran faster than any other woman in the world*? that race that has defined your career and your international standing? … PSYCH! not a world record! ha ha!” -IAAF

also: if you want to set a world record and you’re a woman? from now on, you’d better find an all women’s race to do it in, because otherwise it doesn’t count. so New York, Boston, London, Chicago, Berlin marathons? no need to do your best there anymore, ladies. apparently the IAAF think you just breeze along to the finish line… because obviously the men will have already done all the hard work of pacing the race.

(but wait: the men in a race have male pacers, don’t they? why yes – yes, they do. but for a woman to have a male pacer is unfair.

huh??!!?)

i suppose i shouldn’t be surprised by this unbelievably transparent bid to completely discredit women’s achievements out of hand. after all, this is *what the patriarchy does*.

the other day, the king of saudi arabia decided to allow women saudis to vote (four years from now). how very fucking beneficent of him, eh? women all over social media were hailing this as some great achievement. but let’s be clear: it’s not. what it is, is a male dictator who has decided to let women be just a millimetre less oppressed than they were yesterday.

this is what the patriarchy does. it sets the rules. it changes them at whim. it giveth… and then it taketh away. it is always reminding us who’s really in control. it keeps women off balance, and hungry, and grateful for every crumb they are thrown. after all, 2012 will be only the 8th time women have even been allowed to race the olympic marathon! shouldn’t we still pleased as punch about that?

no. no i’m bloody well not. i’m tired of having to fight tooth and nail to simply be *less oppressed*, and i’m tired of the two-steps-forward-one-step-back dance that’s designed to serve as a constant reminder that no matter how far we advance, we are still, and will always be, behind. it is a methodical form of continual humiliation to remind us that we still have to have our rights and achievements accredited by men in order for them to truly count.

so even if you run the fastest marathon in the world, it means nothing unless *they* decide it means something. the message here, ladies: as in the rest of life, no matter how hard you work, no matter how hard you fight, you’ll always just be seen to be chasing a man. and don’t you dare forget it.

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09.11.2011

by Jen at 12:00 am on 11.09.2011Comments Off
filed under: mutterings and musings

every year at this time, I am strangely grateful to no longer be living in the US. the intensity of media saturation reliving the horror of September 11, 2001 becomes to much to bear, even from afar. and to what purpose? to milk the emotion that lays buried just beneath the surface? to stimulate fresh tears, renew the deep ache of grief?

who does that help? what does that serve?

we said we’d never forget. and I think there’s an immense collective fear that somehow we possibly could. that allowing ourselves to view it as a historical event, rather than an existential keening for our loss, somehow dishonours the dead. or more pointedly, dishonours our sorrow.

in a country of 300 million, you could ask every person where they were, and they’d tell you. but there are not 300 million stories about that day. there is only one story. no matter where you were, the one unifying experience during that morning was not sadness, or even shock – we hadn’t yet had time to process anything. it was fear.

fear of things and people unknown falling out of the sky. fear of unsuspected places blowing up. as plane after plane went down, and we all rushed home to be with family, the fear was omnipresent. not knowing where to turn, or when the next explosion would come – our nerves were frayed wires touched in rivers of adrenaline.

for most people, that kind of untrammelled, all encompassing terror is a once in a lifetime experience. for most people, nothing before or since has caused that kind of invasive abject fear, penetrating their lives and brains. everyone wants to share where they were, what they were doing, because it forms part of the collective national story. it means that even in our stunned and silent horror, we are less alone.

people who’ve experienced a deep trauma often experience flashbacks, as the mind struggles to process the enormity of it. and in many ways, this is what we do every year on this day, now. we grapple, we relive, we share our scars. this is what our nation does now, as we try to cope.

but being caught in an annual feedback loop also keeps us trapped, psychically, there in the moment. our inability to modulate our fear, the rampant panic that flooded our entire country that day, means that it continues to spill over into the rest of our lives. we live in a state of heightened alert that prevents us from ever getting enough distance to process what happened. so we guard against the forgetting, we hold tight to the sorrow.

ten years later, we are not coping well.

the government, the media – they all work to keep us there. that fear is useful for winning elections, for attracting viewers, for manipulating public sentiment. and we allow it because we are afraid of forgetting, we are afraid of getting emotional distance. we are afraid that allowing ourselves the space to be less fearful, less sorrowful, will mean *it didn’t matter enough*.

back when i was in the depths of depression as a teen, i cut at my wrists. it was an internal distress made visible – can’t you see how upset i am? this is how much i hurt inside. this is something i can point to, to show you how much i feel. the memorials and the tributes and the sea of flags every year serve the same purpose. this is how much we hurt inside. it was such a monumental event, that we still need people to see our scars. we need to make our pain, our fear, our grief visible. this is how we quantify what happened to us.

but eventually, with time, i learned to demonstrate my emotions in different, healthier ways. and i know that as a country we can too, if only we begin to trust ourselves to deal with the hurt, to allow ourselves the distance to begin to heal, and set ourselves free to do so.

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revelations part 2: letting go of the fear of missing out, and filling in the missing me

by Jen at 12:01 pm on 25.08.2011Comments Off
filed under: londonlife, mutterings and musings

i read an article the other day that brought me to my knees. it was on something i’ve long suffered from, but never knew was a genuine affliction until i saw it put into four little words: “fear of missing out”.

and here i just thought it was my own particularly poignant malaise. this gut-wrenching sense that whatever choice i make must be the *very best* one, not just the good-enough one. the feeling that i must leave as many possible paths open, because i will otherwise be forever saddled with regret over the path not taken. the ever-present fear that somehow, somewhere, in an alternate universe, the jen-who-could-have-selected-door-#1 is living a more exciting and fulfilling life than i am, because i picked door #2.

i know how insane that is. it is a crippling self-induced paranoia that prevents me from ever fully enjoying being present in the here and now. making decisions out of fear is no way to live. it’s doubly ridiculous, of course, because making no decision (out of fear of making the wrong one) is a decision as well. my life has in many ways been circumscribed by an attempt to keep all avenues available – and that, in itself, has prevented me from achieving a lot of the things i wanted to do in life.

i may have mentioned a million times how much i loved living in new york. at the time that i lived there, it was the experience of a lifetime. i had a circle of amazing and exciting friends, a great job that i was really good at, (and that was talking about sponsoring me to do a graduate degree), a social calendar full of cultural events, a rent-stabilised dream apartment in a vibrant neighbourhood. and yet i willingly, nay eagerly, moved away from nyc at the very height of my love affair with the city precisely because i was terrified that by staying put for so many years, i was missing out. i uprooted myself from the happiest place i’ve ever been, because i was convinced i might be happier somewhere else.

which is how i found myself in the summer of 2002, living a suburban life in boston, stuck in a job that bored me to tears. so i decided that it was finally time to get serious about applying to grad school so i could start having the career in counselling i’d always wanted. for years i’d put it off, because i was always afraid to get tied down to one place, and forever waffling between whether to apply to a doctorate programme or a master’s programme. so i decided i would at least sign up to take the g.r.e. exam – a requirement for entry to almost all post-graduate degree programmes. i still couldn’t decide for sure (what if i picked the wrong one?), but i knew which direction i wanted to head in. so i made the appointment, bought the study guides, boned up on my maths (who the hell remembers how to calculate the volume of a cone??!), and practiced for several weeks. the morning of the exam i was feeling pretty confident – i’d had several good practice exam results, and i’ve always tended to do really well under standardised testing conditions.

i bombed.

so i did what any reasonable person would do: i went to live in london. because the opportunity to live in london presented itself, and i was afraid of missing out. oh sure, i could sit around in staid old boston, finding a better job, retaking the exams, doing several years of study, then working to pay off the loans. or i could ditch all that boring stuff and go and live in london, where surely everything exciting was just waiting to happen to me. having watched far too many movies, i convinced myself that living in another country was the key to making me a happier, more interesting, more complete person.

it doesn’t work that way of course, and eight years later, with a chance to make a change from yet another uninspiring job, i found myself flying to vancouver, ready to ditch it all again. because i am afraid that by staying put all this time in london, i must be missing out on something else. vancouver tops all the polls of “best places to live”, so why am i not living there?! vancouver is where i need to be to be at my happiest!!

and so the cycle goes. it is the constant fear of missing out that wracks me, does my head in, and paralyses me with dread. because being in vancouver for those months, all i could think about was what was going on back in london. i was convinced that the best, most amazing stuff was happening without me. as lovely as vancouver was, it could never live up to the opportunities that i was missing out on in london!

- i have lived my whole adult life in some of the most exciting cities in the world.
- i have travelled around the globe.
- i have become a full citizen of another culture.
- i have experienced music and art and monuments and natural wonders that many people only dream of.

and yet… i fear i’m somehow missing out.

that’s just crazy. but there you have it.

vancouver glistens invitingly. we could move in january. i am terrified that by not taking that opportunity now, it may not present itself again. i am terrified of missing out and afraid of losing my nerve. every fibre of my being is telling me to jump at it. i’ve got itchy feet and that feeling in my stomach that’s telling me to gogogogogogo.

but when i stop to evaluate and honestly weigh up my life, the reality is, the one thing i’m really most missing out on? a fulfilling career, doing something i love.

“live to regret the things you did, not the things you didn’t”. and if i were to die tomorrow, i might have a pang or two about not going to vancouver, but i would bitterly regret never having achieved my dream of being a therapist. staring down the barrel of my 40th birthday, i am realising that that’s become incredibly important to me at this point in my life. so even though it fills me with anxiety to admit it, i have to acknowledge that’s something that is most cheaply, quickly, and sensibly achieved by staying put. here. in london. not vancouver.

it pains me to close that door. for weeks i’ve been in knots over it – thinking of all the lost snowboarding, beaches, road-trips, dogs, fresh air, scenery and pleasantries, the idyllic (and idealised) lifestyle that vancouver represents in my head. but i’m just going to have to get over my fear of missing out. i need to learn to stop, focus, be patient, concentrate on my real life – and stop chasing after the some mirage of something or someplace better that’s always just out of reach, because it’s never where i actually *am*.

for once, i want *where i am* to be the ideal, and that’s not a city – it’s a state of mind.

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why? because why the hell not?

by Jen at 7:16 am on 9.08.2011 | 5 Comments
filed under: londonlife, rant and rage

so i’ve found some words, after a sleepless night of sirens and smoke, obsessively monitoring the happenings further down my street. i’m not sure they’re the right ones, but in the light of day, this is what it looks like to me.

here’s why the riots last night happened: because why the hell not?

the riots are the product of an extensive underclass that is completely and wholly disengaged. who feel no respect for other people, because no one respects them. they’re a population of (mostly) young people who’ve been all wound up and let go, but not given any direction.

what have they got to lose? nothing, that’s what.

what they see day in day out, is people taking what they want without consequence. from the local thugs in the hood, to the bankers on telly. people do it to them, and they learn in turn to do it to others. it’s as much a part of the cycle as the poverty that disenfranchises huge proportions of the city, as much a part of the cycle as the ever- changing parade of politicians who promise much and deliver little.

this is what they see: nothing ever changes, nothing ever improves and no on is ever held accountable.

and the police? they act with the same kind of impunity. they stop-and-search on a whim, they expend their power against the most powerless. they kill and are exonerated, always. they pick, pick, pick at the scab that covers the old wounds of rampant distrust.

against that bleak backdrop, what’s a few store windows, a few nicked mobile phones? the likelihood of any repercussions to themselves is almost nil, but then again society has pretty much already written them off anyway. at least they get some new kicks out of the deal – and in a world where trainers/sneakers are a stand in for actual power and status, that’s not insignificant.

there is no excuse for engaging in crime, no free pass that entitles you to abdicate personal responsibility for your choices. no one believes anyone is “sticking it to tha man” by ransacking the Tescos Express. burning down people’s livelihoods and homes is a grotesque and unconscionable act. but if you don’t think that a “fuck you, i’m gonna get mine” attitude is the direct product of a culture where feelings of entitlement, detachment, and disillusionment are evident in abundance in daily life? well then you’re probably just as deliberately obtuse as the politicians who stuck their heads in the (holiday beach) sand for three days, hoping it would go away.

the police were outnumbered, but that hardly mattered – they’re only powerful in known, discrete, controlled situations. turns out they’re great a cracking down on protesters who get permits and stay tidily in groups, but what the last few highly publicised/televised demonstrations have shown is that they can do almost nothing against small mobile flexible clusters that swarm and spread then re-swarm.

even had they been more numerous, they were at a distinct disadvantage – because while properties and businesses were being smashed and torched all over the country, all they could continue to do was hope-against-hope that the rampaging mobs didn’t decide to turn against people, and the only way in which to de-escalate most of the situations, was to defer.

so instead, we sat in our houses in fear, watching our beloved city in flames, hoping it wouldn’t come to our doorstep. and i’m sure that like myself. people all around the country were praying that no one would get killed. because frankly, i shudder to think about the ways in which it could have spiralled even further out of control. i, like so many, was glued to the television and twitter til nearly daybreak, getting accounts of the violence happening less than a mile away from me in several directions. unnerved doesn’t begin to describe it.

and in the cold, sad light of a sunny morning of what should be a glorious day, but is instead a day of both national and city-wide tragedy and mourning, no amount of understanding gives any comfort. none of the words matter. because it is simply heartbreaking beyond all comprehension.

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and just hours later…

by Jen at 9:55 pm on 8.08.2011Comments Off
filed under: londonlife, rant and rage

london is burning all around me. literally all around me. one to three miles in any direction from my flat, things are ravaged and burned.

there are no words for how devastatingly sad this is.

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revelations, part one: or, how i learned to stop worrying and love london.

by Jen at 5:44 pm on Comments Off
filed under: londonlife, mutterings and musings

i’ve been quiet these last few weeks since arriving home.

i’ve been busy. my “third sister” has been staying with us for the past month whilst taking an international law course, and having a london adventure. she’s been a family friend for 28 years, and i last saw her in 2002, so it’s been wonderful to have her here, to reconnect. with the timing of her visit coinciding with my return (and unemployed free time), it’s given me my first real opportunity to play tourguide – to show off my city, to point out hidden gems and discuss cultural quirks. i so missed london while i was in vancouver, and i’ve been fortunate to be able to spend a lovely few weeks spending quality time with my dear friend and getting re-acquainted with it my home city. i’ve had the luxury of a whole month for hours wandering aimlessly through parks and gazing up at the historic architecture, hitting the pubs with mates, exploring museums and attending open-air concerts. truly a magical time.

which brings up a thorny problem. because we’ve been planning to leave. we’ve been committed to leaving for years now. and now that the opportunity is in hand… i no longer know if my heart is in it. or rather, i think i now know where my heart *is*.

if you talk to anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you what i’ve been saying for years: that while i really like london, i’ve never loved london. i’ve never loved it in that way that makes your heart race, i’ve never loved it in that way that makes you feel like you’re at one with the living, breathing, evolving urban organism. i’ve said that i’ve never loved london so often that it’s become my rote, unthinking response to anyone asking why we were planning to move. after all, i’ve never planned to settle here long-term: never contributed to any pension plan, put off doing a degree that would require any extended period of study, never put down roots in any significant way.

for eight years i’ve adamantly and fiercely maintained that this dalliance with london was only temporary. because while i really like london, i don’t love london.

oddly enough, this year was also something of a milestone for me. i’ve now lived in london longer than anywhere else i’ve chosen to live as an adult. and i’ve now lived here longer than i lived in new york city – and i loved new york city with my whole soul. twelve long years since leaving, i still regret having moved from new york.

but while i really like london, i’ve never loved london.

and so last week, on a gorgeous summer day when i was walking around goggling at the buildings from the 1600s, and marvelling at the river, it suddenly hit me – i’ve been saying that so long, i never stopped to re-evaluate if it was still true.

like a thunderbolt out of the blue, it became clear to me. i do love london. it’s a sneaky love that crept up on me in between all the moments of urban annoyance and expat frustration. it’s a quiet love borne of familiarity and cranky affection. i’ve talked endlessly about how london wasn’t a great fit for me, given my brash personality and impatience. but amazingly, (or really, not so amazingly at all), i’ve changed over the years. london has too – of course it has.

i’ve grown to love london, but never recognised it for what it was. and it makes so much sense, when i stop to think about it. as much as i have a complete disregard for history itself, a part of me has always been deeply drawn to historical things: architecture, family heirlooms, old-fashioned items of nostalgia. as much as i rail against feeling constrained by formality, another part of me really loves and values tradition. as much as i detest being cramped by space and inconvenience, another part of me loves all things small and quaint. and most importantly, as much as i moan about needing access to nature and fresh air, it is the joyful culture and chaos of big city living that really makes me feel most myself, most vitally alive.

so you see the conundrum i’m faced with now. i’ll fill you in on the rest of it in part two.

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home again, home again, jiggety-jig.

by Jen at 10:38 am on 5.07.2011 | 1 Comment
filed under: londonlife, mutterings and musings, travelology

oh hello there!

some of you may have noticed (or, y’know, not, as the case may be) that jen’s den was offline for a few weeks. 30 gigs worth of spammy traffic to dead links meant i had to flip the switch for a bit. dunno how that happened, but hopefully it was an aberration.

i woke up this morning next to my husband, back in my own bed in london, jetlag hangover from hell piercing my brain. i’m still feeling very disoriented and fuzzy around the edges – a weird foggy miasma of being neither here not there.

vancouver was a mixed bag. frustratingly was unable to land a job of any sort – sponsoring a work visa is a dealbreaker for most employers, it seems, in spite of my 20 years experience in the field. however i was able to (hopefully) pave a pathway for getting a student visa. if all goes well, we may be able to move over in september – not an ideal scenario, but a means to an end.

as expected, vancouver was overwhelmingly *nice*. nice people, nice city. quiet, clean, efficient. even the riots that happened while i was there? watching it on telly, felt a bit like “riot lite”. a few cars set alight, smash-and-grab looting. opportunistic vandalism on a large scale, more than anything else. but nothing like the venomous, violent clashes that happened between the police and student protesters here in london. the vancouver riots were about frustration and mob mischief run amok. the london riots were about a passionate power struggle between stalwart ideological symbolism and the perceived oppression of the powerless underclasses. if you want any further evidence of the clear differentiation between the two riots, you need look no further than the collective community response and volunteerism that swept vancouver in the days immediately following, when residents by the thousands signed “apology walls”, did cleanups, and went to lengths to emphasise the rioters were “not real vancouverites”.

even in the face of mayhem and chaos, vancouver is unfailingly polite.

(aside: it also needs to be said that from what i saw, and from most reports, the vancouver police went to extraordinary lengths to avoid escalating interactions with the crowd – perhaps, ultimately, to the detriment of getting the situation under control. but they made it quite clear that they wanted first and foremost to allow the massive crowd of rubberneckers, or those just caught up in the situation, to disperse and go home, and gave them ample opportunity to do so before cracking down harder. a refreshing change from the heavy-handed kettling tactics london police resort to by default these days.)

and so my 3 months in vancouver was very pleasant. and “pleasant” may not get the heart racing wildly, but there’s a helluva lot to recommend it. i found myself fantasizing about bicycling around, and having a dog that i can take to the park, and having a little car for weekend camping getaways, and growing tomatoes in a garden. there’s never going to be the edgy excitement of discovering a new underground music scene, or avant-garde experimental art exhibit, or pop-up supper club. but really? i’ve had a combined 16 years of access to those sorts of things in nyc and london, and how often did i ever avail myself of them? almost never. instead, what i find myself wistfully wishing for is a sunny summer saturday when my opportunity for communing with nature is not limited to a postage stamp-sized common heaving with people, a sunday when i don’t have to step over piles of vomit on the pavement, or a monday when i don’t have to endure a commute akin to medieval torture. and these, vancouver has in abundance.

i’ve been trying to think objectively about the downsides to vancouver, and the best i can come up with is this:
– too much pot smoking (seriously too much – and i say that as a proponent of legalisation. i really don’t want a contact high every time i’m in an open-air public place.)
– open container laws and no alcohol sales on sunday. pouring white wine into a tupperware sippy cup so i could drink it in the park made me feel like a 16 year old. boooo!
– too many homeless people. my canadian friend tells me they migrate from elsewhere in canada because of the relatively mild vancouver climate, but i never saw this many homeless, even in new york. it’s (in a general humanitarian sense) terribly sad, and (in a selfish urbanite sense) annoying.
– rain. rains more than london(!), but gets 300 extra hours of sun (!) to balance it out. that’s an extra 5 weeks of daytime sun.

and even with all this pleasantness, i found myself missing london something awful. in fact, missing *britishness* with a fierce ache. missing that bit of myself that so quickly started slipping away once transplanted to another environs.

but that’s a topic for another post.

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why babies in bikinis is not the problem

by Jen at 5:37 am on 5.06.2011 | 2 Comments
filed under: like a fish needs a bicycle

so david cameron is launching a campaign to purportedly help protect children from exploitative, hyper-sexualised commercial targeting by retailers, advertisers, and various media forms. the “let children be children” measures will include:

• Retailers to ensure magazines with sexualised images have modesty sleeves.

• The Advertising Standards Authority to discourage placement of billboards near schools and nurseries.

• Music videos to be sold with age ratings.

• Procedures to make it easier for parents to block adult and age restricted material on internet.

• Code of practice to be issued on child retailing.

• Define a child as 16 in all types of advertising regulation.

• Advertising Standards Authority to do more to gauge parent’s views on advertising.

• Create a single website for parents to complain to regulators.

• Change rules on nine o’clock television watershed to give priority to views of parents.

so for the sake of simplicity, let’s set aside the problems about using “morality” campaigns to divert attention from things like service cuts and the floundering economy (taking a page out of U.S. Republicans’ playbook there). and let’s set aside the idea that for someone who derided the “nanny state” that Britain had supposedly become under Labour, this is pretty direct government intervention in the arena of parental control.

what is most problematic about this initiative is this: it does absolutely nothing to address the root cause of the problem, and in fact, only amplifies an existing hypocrisy. this whole thing is just a big red herring. because the problem is not that children are being targeted for “sexy” clothing, or exposed to too many pelvic thrusts before 9pm (and if that doesn’t smack of “Elvis the pelvis” 1950s retrogression, i don’t know what does).

the problem is we’re not talking about children – we’re talking about *girls*. and the reason we are talking about girls, is because as a society, we expect girls to become gender-conformant and gender-performing women. women who must learn to be sexy, but not actually have (or god-forbid enjoy) sex. women who should wear high heels and padded bras and makeup, but never be seen as teasing or provocative, lest they incite men. women who must demonstrate sexuality, but never use it. women who must learn to measure their value by their perceived attractiveness, because that is what they will always receive the most reward and attention for. women who must never rebuff lewd remarks or glances from strangers on the street, even when they feel intimidated or violated. women who must aspire to look like the photoshopped plasticine images used to sell beer and cars and diet sodas, even if it’s physiologically impossible, and if they can’t achieve that, they are defective or deficient in some way, so they must never stop trying even if it requires surgical modification or starvation. women who must learn not inhabit their bodies, because their bodies do not belong to them – their bodies belong to the advertisers and pornographers and media to manipulate and sell for profit.

it takes a lifetime to learn to walk that fine line, even with the continuous bombardment of cultural reinforcement on a daily basis reminding us of what a sexy woman should be, what a woman must and must not do. we cannot possibly hope for young girls to understand the multitudinous nuances that society will expect of them as they mature. and god knows, the boys must learn it too – otherwise, how else will they know how to help the girls conform?

you see where i’m going with this, i’m sure.

the problem is, always has been, and still remains: until we stop sending this insane message, until we stop wrapping women’s worth in a tangled mess of conflicting and impossible sexual mores, until we stop valuing females based on their appearance and perceived availability as sexual objects, girls will never stop having to try to learn it and live it – and advertisers/media/entrepreneurs will never stop trying to sell it.

but people rarely stop to think: if it’s a problematic message for children, why isn’t it a problematic message for adults? it’s easier to pretend we can censor it, or control it, until kids are “old enough” to learn to handle it.

so my question is: at exactly what age is any of that bullshit appropriate?

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my boyz

by Jen at 3:50 am on 28.05.2011Comments Off
filed under: this sporting life

so while i’ve been here in Vancouver, it’s been all hockey, all the time. i’ve been supporting the Bruins (obvs) in the eastern conference playoffs, but also supporting the Canucks in the western conference.

and for the two months i’ve been here, it’s been lots of fun to participate in the playoff fervour that’s swept this city. everywhere you look, there’s banners exhorting the team to “go Canucks go!” and people decked out in the team kit. the whole metropolis is swathed in blue and white. watching the Canucks games has given me something to look forward to at a time when i’ve been lonely and trying to pinch pennies – every few games i know i can head to the pub, have a few beers, interact with the fans, and enjoy myself.

but lest there be any doubt, i bleed boston blood. even though it’s been quite difficult to follow them over the last eight years from afar (and not much noteworthy to follow), i’ve never wavered in my love for my hometown team. and so it was that i was in the pub this evening, convincing the Vancouverites to root for Boston against Tampa Bay. and it was lovely that when Boston finally made it through to the finals, there was genuine congratulations extended to me from the punters.

because from here on out, it’s about to get very lonely indeed. i am in enemy territory now. all the lighthearted fun and games is over – the Bruins haven’t won a Stanley Cup since the year i was born, and haven’t even been to the finals in 21 years. on the Canucks side, they haven’t won a cup in the 40 year history of the team.

so it’s high stakes, and my official jersey is at home in London (poor planning on my part!) which means the first order of business tomorrow is buying myself a big ol’ Bruins shirt, to wear with pride when the finals begin.

c’mon Bruins! don’t let me down boyz! i’m counting on you.

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the good, the bad, and the hail

by Jen at 11:28 pm on 15.05.2011 | 1 Comment
filed under: mundane mayhem

things i’m already enjoying about vancouver:

  • the more relaxed feel of the city. the impact of this cannot be overstated – even as stressed as i am about trying to sort out a life, everyone else around me is so much more laid back. people aren’t rushing around like little frantic worker ants. shockingly few people are plugged into headphones, or burying their gaze in their smartphone. people make eye contact and small talk – the humanity of just those little things have a huge impact on your mood.
  • everyone being outdoors, all the time. rain or shine, people are out walking, cycling, rollerblading and running. i’m seen very few gyms, and a whole lot of people who seem to just make a point to get out in the fresh air. i need to purchase some proper weather-appropriate outdoorsy gear if i’m going to join in.
  • customer service. this is something i’ve desperately missed about north america – even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. in london restaurants, if you drop your fork, or need to ask for condiments after you’ve had your meal served, well good luck to you. you practically have to set yourself alight to get the attention of the waitstaff in most places. shops, ticket agents, phone representatives – all universally sub-par experiences in the main. i think the main difference is that even when customer service in london is *competent* (and that’s infrequent enough), it’s rarely *pleasant*. here, they may often go overboard in their attempts to be helpful or upbeat, but there is still at the core a genuine desire to make your experience a good one. just the fact that they’re usually trying, makes a big difference.
  • space. the houses are detached. the streets are wide. the pavements are uncrowded. ’nuff said.

things i’m not enjoying:

  • the cost. i never expected things to be cheap… but i didn’t expect them to be nearly as expensive as london. rent is cheaper, petrol is cheaper, public transport is cheaper, and eating out is cheaper – but that’s about it. for someone who’s trying to spend as little money as possible, it’s a challenge. groceries, in particular, are shockingly expensive.
  • the hail. now when it’s not raining, vancouver is beautiful. and i am more than used to rain by now. and the weather forecasters have made a point of saying that this weather is atypical for spring, being colder and wetter than usual – but it has hailed three separate times so far this month. in *may*. that’s ludicrous.

but really? that’s about it. that’s the worst i can come up with so far. the weather, and expense.

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echoechoecho..echoechoecho…echo…echo

by Jen at 4:17 am on 6.05.2011 | 3 Comments
filed under: mundane mayhem

so here i am.

i’ve been here for almost a month, and already this is harder than i thought. there have been personal disasters, friendships crumbling, employment obstacles. i deliberately came here without a plan – but suffice to say that if i’d had one, this certainly wouldn’t have been it.

the most difficult is the loneliness. i am not good at being alone. much like a border collie left too long, i get neurotic, easily bored, and aimlessly destructive. i’ve made major moves all alone four times in my life now, and each time the stir craziness settles under my skin and drives me mad. i don’t cope well.

i try, of course, to meet people, get out of the house and do things. the sublet i’m currently in is located in a neighbourhood that j and i are keen to move to, so i’m trying to make the most of discovering the local community. i hang out in coffee shops and pubs, i go running, i go to the movies, i go to museums, i do errands and take walks. but ultimately, i spend most of my days alone, and the only thing that will remedy that is establishing a network over time.

the job search is going very slowly. turns out, vancouver just isn’t that big, and there just aren’t as many jobs as i’d hoped. it seems like most of the opportunities fall into two categories: things i’m completely over-qualified for, and things i’m nowhere near qualified for, with very few things in between. i keep plugging away, and i’ve had a few nibbles of interest – but ultimately, the work permit issue is a dealbreaker, and i’ve not yet found an employer willing to take the leap of faith that work sponsorship requires. in the meantime, there’s a plan b slowly coalescing. i’m taking a course at the local college, which would qualify me for applying to their community counseling programme this autumn – which would a) qualify me for a student visa and b) help me brush up my skills in preparation for applying to a master’s or doctoral programme for autumn next year. it’s not ideal, but it would be a means to an end, so i’m working that path as well. the course runs until the end of June, and then the counseling programme starts in September.

so, there’s that. but it means i’m here, alone, for another 8 weeks. just me and the echo chamber inside my head. i’ve always joked that i hate my own company… but right now, that’s all i’ve got.

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apropos of nothing…

by Jen at 5:36 pm on 3.05.2011 | 3 Comments
filed under: rant and rage

… if the fact that i won’t cheer the death of someone makes you uncomfortable, that’s your problem, not mine. i don’t run around telling people not to cheer – please don’t think you need to tell me why you feel perfectly justified in doing just that. everyone else feels entitled to opine away on how happy they are – but the minute i offer a dissenting opinion, i’m accused of finger-wagging, or even being unpatriotic (which, as anyone who knows me well will know, is a concept i find laughable.)

to be clear: my feelings are my feelings alone – i am more than aware that they do not coincide with the feelings of most other people i know. and frankly, i don’t care what your internal mental rationale is. but if my personal stance makes you feel defensive, that’s something for you to examine – not me.

that is all.

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it’s times like this, i feel like an alien

by Jen at 4:45 am on 2.05.2011 | 4 Comments
filed under: rant and rage

osama bin laden is dead.

i don’t even have a television in my sublet right now, and even without the hyperactive, in-your-face hyperbolic news coverage, it’s all getting to be a bit too much for me. my twitter and facebook streams were suddenly flooded with messages of jubilant rejoicing.

these are people i know – people i consider friends. and it makes me feel like i’m not even in the same universe, because all i can think of is how grotesque i find the display of glee in another human being’s death.

don’t get me wrong: i’m not shedding any tears for a mass murderer. i’m not sad for his death. but the joyous gloating in the killing of someone, is not something i can even begin to comprehend. it is *that* unrestrained glee which upsets me.

because it’s murder. the president ordered murder. my vote helped aid murder. my tax dollars helped finance murder.

should i be happy about that? the reaction from everyone around me seems to indicate that i should be. and yet i find it repugnant to even contemplate cheering.

the killing of osama bin laden does not balance the books. it doesn’t bring back even a single one of the thousands who died. and it doesn’t prevent future deaths any more than simply capturing him would have done.

what it does, is make the public feel good. it allows them to pretend that justice has been done. it satisfies their bloodlust for vengeance. what it does not do, is make any single one of us a better person.

i’m not trying to come off as high and mighty here. i fully understand the emotion that bin laden’s death brings back to the surface. we are all revisiting a piece of that day – i am too. but how can we ever achieve peace when we glorify death?

see, all those videos and messages that bin laden sent after 9/11? telling us how much *he* was reveling in the death? and how disgusting we found it. how barbaric and evil it seemed. celebrating death is vile business, and that’s precisely what osama bin laden did. it revolted us. and when i don’t do the same, in my own little way, i get to feel superior to that fucker. i am a better person than he.

but if my social networks are anything to go by, i’m nearly alone in this opinion. an alien being from another planet, who just doesn’t “get it”. even this evening, i’ve had people challenging my thinking, trying to change my mind, and justify their feelings to me. i’ve never asked them to, but i won’t/can’t change how i feel. and, in a sea of celebration that i find awful, i can’t/won’t sit silent about it either.

yup – must be an alien.

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ringing, stinging, jerking like a nervous bird

by Jen at 9:02 pm on 29.04.2011 | 6 Comments
filed under: mutterings and musings

hi, i’m jen, and i suffer from phone anxiety.

what’s that? you’ve never heard of phone anxiety? some people call it phone phobia (although i think “phobia” is a bit too dramatic for me). i’ve had it all my life, and until about 8 or 9 years ago, i had no idea it affected anyone else. i truly thought i was the only person in the world who got anxious using the telephone.

seriously. because, i mean really – how *dumb* is it to be afraid of the telephone? but i am. with friends and family and people i know well, i’m fine. but for everything else, i get a knot in my stomach and a tightening in my chest every time i have to make or take a phone call. everything from ordering pizza to making calls at work, makes me (to a greater or lesser degree) feel the same way people feel before taking tests or going on stage – it’s just that my stage-fright starts with a dial tone.

i have no idea where it comes from. i’ve never (to my memory) had any kind of horrible telephone trauma. there’s some speculation that it’s a form of social anxiety disorder, which makes some sense, since i used to be painfully shy as a child. but i really don’t know why i dread phone calls so much. also mysteriously, it has, over the past few years, gotten dramatically better for me. again, no idea why.

but still, if i had my druthers, i’d almost never make a phone call. i procrastinate, i avoid, i try to find loopholes via text and email and internet. i order takeaway food online. i let all unknown numbers go straight to voice mail. i call when i know they won’t be available and leave messages instead.

unfamiliar or stressful situations make it even worse. when i first moved to london, it was horrible. firstly, because i got my first mobile phone – and i detest mobile phones, with their expectation that you are constantly available, the horrible sound quality (am i the only one who really actually can’t hear people on those things?), and the extreme awkwardness of having a conversation in full public hearing of crowds of strangers. secondly, because i still had a hard time understanding some people’s accents (and them, mine). have you ever tried carrying on a conversation with someone with a heavy accent when you can’t see their lips? thirdly, because there is very different phone etiquette in the UK than in north america. brits start the conversation with lots of perfunctory social pleasantries, they never just dive right in. brits do not ever interrupt the other party. brits end the conversation with several goodbyes before they actually hang up, usually in increasingly high-pitched, saccharine tones (”okay then, goodbye! bye!! *bye*!!!”). i’ll never forget the first phone call i got on my mobile phone, was a recruiter with a heavy Scottish accent, calling me while i was in the london bridge station concourse, and in between accidentally talking over her, trying to find a pen to write down interview details, and trying to hear/understand her, i was in a panic. by the time i got off, i was drenched in sweat and had to go collect myself before waiting for the next train. hideous.

it got better, of course. but it never really leaves me. so i have coping mechanisms that i use, such as:

  • rehearsal. i try to know in advance what i will say, i practice the wording. this works well for run-of-the-mill situations like ordering pizza, where i can fairly accurately predict how the exchange will occur: what i will say, what they will say in return, what questions they’ll ask, what my answers will be.
  • batching. this is what i do for “errand” type phone calls (correcting the cable bill, making doctor’s appointments) – i set aside time when i know i can sit quietly alone and make several calls all at once. then i just try to get through all of them, like ripping off a plaster, and once they’re done, the anxiety that’s been hanging over me around knowing i have calls to make, lifts instantaneously.
  • using notes and speaking slowly. this is what i do when i have calls that will require me to think on my feet, like speaking to prospective employers, or negotiating contentious issues with the phone company, or answering queries at work. i usually jot down some reference notes to have to hand, and try to slow down what comes out of my mouth, so that i have time to think ahead of what i’m going to say. it sounds more deliberate and measured, which also makes me feel more confident.
  • using voicemail. even if i call back just a few minutes later, it makes me feel more in control, more prepared. answering the phone when i don’t know what to expect catches me off guard and makes me terribly anxious. it may seem rude, but i really am “sorry i can’t take your call at the moment”. i may want to be able to – but i can’t.
  • revisiting phone calls that went well. replaying these in my head reminds me of what worked, that i will feel much better once it’s done, and that i am a capable adult who can handle a telephone conversation without having a meltdown.

however, probably the worst situation for phone phobics, is job hunting.

  • there is a lot of telephoning involved. even in the age of the internet, there’s still a frequent requirement that you pick up the phone and speak to someone.
  • you have to answer the phone even when you don’t want to, because the price of not answering is too great. you can’t afford to lose a job opportunity because of your phone anxiety
  • where you spend most of your time trying to allay your phone anxiety by telling yourself that you’re *not* being judged by the person on the other end of the phone, in a job seeking situation, you are being judged.
  • you’re being required to perform well via a medium which is your achille’s heel. in person, i interview great. over the phone, not so much.
  • knowing all of the above only heightens the phone anxiety, and makes it that much harder.

it’s hell – no matter how much you practice, or how often you do it, job hunting for people with phone anxiety really is hell. imagine having claustrophobia, and having to spend significant time in lifts, or having acrophobia and having to interview in skyscrapers, just to land a job. the only way through it is through it – but it doesn’t make it any easier. so spare a thought for me as i struggle through it here in vancouver – just don’t call me about it.

cake – no phone

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isle of beauty, fare thee well

by Jen at 4:45 pm on 5.04.2011 | 2 Comments
filed under: londonlife, mutterings and musings

why is it that it’s only on leaving something behind that you fully appreciate it?

i finished my job last week – and in the madness leading up to my last day, i found myself working flat out, to the point of exhaustion. everyone around me kept asking if i’d mentally checked out yet, and the truth was that i hadn’t because i couldn’t let go. part of it was an untimely confluence of crises that happened in the last weeks, but a larger part of it was pride – i was too proud to do a half-assed job even when most other people would have simply called it good enough and done. my colleagues kept telling me, “you can only do what you can do”, and they were right, obviously – but i was so afraid of letting people down that i couldn’t see my own limitations.

feeding into that last minute frenzy, there was a whole leaving chorus of “what will we do without you?!” intellectually, i know, of course, that no one is indispensable. in a few months, someone else in that job will have made their own mark, blurred my footprints. but it was nice to hear, nonetheless. because as much as i moaned about it, and stressful as it could often be, there were two things about leaving this job that made it so bittersweet.

first: that i was damned good at it. oh sure, there have been other jobs where i felt competent and capable. but there are very few jobs that really play to your strengths, and this was one of them. and being damned good at something gives you job satisfaction that tides you over even when other things at work aren’t great. i used to come home and complain/brag about how much i’d done – but i always had a secret sense of accomplishment that gave me a little smile. and people appreciated my work.

secondly: that i am leaving before i really want to. leaving a job because you’ve become bored, or resentful, or overworked, etc. is something i’m pretty familiar with. when you have that bitter taste at the back of your throat because you’ve come to hate something you spend so many hours a day doing – there are no mixed feelings when you finally leave. but there has been one other job where i felt i left before i was ready, and i’ve always kind of regretted that. i was essentially forced out of this job – and so i am ambivalent and heavy-hearted to have had to leave. i might not have ended sticking around for very much longer – but it’s hard to walk away knowing there was more you would have wanted to do.

and i suppose that those feelings are also reflected in my leaving london. as much as i may moan about it, and as stressful as it has often been, living in london has given me a sense of satisfaction and achievement. even in my grousing and bitching, there’s a hint of smugness in knowing that i am bitching about london – a city many would love to have the opportunity to live in, and which i have had the luxury of bitching about for eight years now. there’s a secret sense of accomplishment in getting here and living here that turns up the corners of my mouth ever so slightly. i may have had to gut it out at times, but i was damned good at london.

similarly, as much as i’ve wanted to leave for a while now, i do in some ways feel as though i’m leaving before the end. i haven’t wrung all the last drops of joy out of this experience yet. since the beginning of the year when it became clear that this move was in the cards, i’ve been looking at london with fresh new eyes. feeling it with the heart of someone anticipating the empty space it will leave. appreciating it in a way that i couldn’t when the years were just stretched out endlessly before me. the other day was my move-iversary, and i was remembering that initial honeymoon phase when everything about london seemed grand and even the mundane was new and quaint. all the little things that have become just so much background noise that i barely even notice them – except now that i know i will miss them, they jump out at me all the time. maybe even without this catalyst, i would be leaving soon anyway, and maybe it’s better to leave with fond memories and regrets of things not yet done, than with a sour lump of resentment. but i can’t help feeling that, like my job, my stay was incomplete.

“absence makes the heart grow fonder” – i’d never known the origins of that line, but it’s been spinning in my head for days. how apt then, that it’s an englishman who wrote it.

One of England’s more versatile writers, Thomas Haynes Bayly wrote novels, plays, poems, political articles, and songs. In 1844 a poem titled “Isle of Beauty” appeared in Bayly’s two-volume Songs, Ballads, and Other Poems. It is here that the following romantic words are found:

What would not I give to wander

Where my old companions dwell?

Absence makes the heart grow fonder:

Isle of Beauty, fare thee well!

as people keep reminding me, you can only do what you can do. and so, dear london, dear england, dear isle of beauty, goodbye – for now.

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things i will not miss about london

by Jen at 1:14 pm on 25.03.2011 | 1 Comment
filed under: londonlife

the vomit.

puke, gag, retch.

i’ve lived in boston, montreal, and new york. i’ve visited cities big and small all around the globe. and i have never anywhere else seen as much vomit as i have in london.

upchuck, blowing chunks, tossing cookies, spewing – call it what you will, but it’s everywhere on the pavements of the big smoke. it makes running on sunday mornings a minefield, and turns a monday morning commute a stomach-churning experience.

against walls, in bus shelters, next to gutters – you’re always encountering the remnants of someone’s unsuccessful drunken curry or hungover chips. if you’re particularly unlucky, you’ll see the heave in action, in full technicolour effect with sound. i’ve seen more strangers puking in public than i care to count. the pigeons peck at it, then it dries to a dark spatter, eventually washing away with the rain.

it’s a particularly nasty side effect of the binge-drinking culture that’s so prevalent here, and i will not miss it at all.

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things about london I will miss

by Jen at 9:24 pm on 20.03.2011 | 2 Comments
filed under: londonlife

the thing about london spring? you start feeling it in the air at the end of january – the cold starts to lose its edge. and you think to yourself, “it can’t possibly be spring yet.” and it isn’t – not quite yet.

but in february those crocuses and daffodils start emerging, and they tease you with the scent of greenery in the air. what follows is usually weeks of grey damp – the kind where you can’t remember what the hell compelled you to set up shop on this crazy island where dreariness seems endless and the gloom is so dispiriting it crushes the hope right out of you.

and then, it hits. like someone’s turned on a thousand brilliant lights all at once. there is grass and there are warm breezes, and the sun is so dazzling it stuns all your senses. your nose and lungs fill and fill and all your nerves are vibrating with energy from the warm glow on your skin. it happens on *one day* and everyone londoner feels it on that same day, migrating out into the fresh air and open spaces en masse, like birds returning home.

it happened this weekend, and reminded me what a magical thing it is – and even though it arrives in exactly the same way each year, it makes you feel alive as if you’ve never been alive quite that intensely before.

I will miss that.

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into the great unknown

by Jen at 5:42 pm on 18.03.2011 | 3 Comments
filed under: mundane mayhem

i fly to vancouver in less than 3 weeks, and it’s all starting to feel a little too real. i’ve got 9 days left in the office, my replacement has been hired. i need to think about what to pack. i need to think about what i’m going to do when i get there.

but at the same time, all my plans are so tenuous, i’m afraid to even talk about them for fear of jinxing it all. or for fear of having to eat a large slice of humble pie if i have to come crawling back to london in a few months. or for fear of finding a job, making the move, and then realising i hate it. or for fear of not finding a job in vancouver, not finding a job back in london, and ending up long-term unemployed and running out of money. or for fear of moving and having something go horribly wrong with health/relationship/family and having no network of support.

there’s a lot of fear. which is why i’m not talking about it.

i’m starting to look at everything as if it’s the last time i will be experiencing it. which, if everything goes smoothly, it very well might be. come april, it is all into the great unknown, so i’m doing what i do best: ignoring it.

i’ll let you know how that works out.

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on the hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day

by Jen at 6:30 pm on 8.03.2011Comments Off
filed under: like a fish needs a bicycle

… i am most grateful for:

- my childhood copy of “Free to Be You and Me”. it was my first exposure to feminist and in a million subtle ways it would shape my view of my life as a woman-to-be.

- my local library for stocking it, and letting me check it out over and over and over again.

- and my mom. who modeled equality and capability for me every day. and still does )

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