Friday, 31 October 2008

London Continually Lost

It is October 31, and normally I would be excited. I love Halloween! If I were home right now, I would likely be going out for my friend’s pre-birthday celebration. She is amazing when it comes to making costumes; most people slap together a costume in the last week. My friend on the other hand, knows months in advance what she is going to “be” for Halloween. And her costumes reflect her careful attention to detail. Today I would be perfectly happy to be someone else.

I’m actually a bit relieved to be in a city that celebrates the occasion. Since I arrived in London, I have seen people dressed up in costumes – or else they were just outwardly eccentric. I still appreciate the man, dressed in a white suit, covered in black arrows; he was “Northwest”. (yes, as in the direction.). Clever. Several years ago my friends and I purposely headed to Amsterdam for Halloween, thinking that it would be a hotbed of entertainment. Unfortunately, as it turned out, Halloween in Amsterdam was relatively dull. After spending an evening in a local “coffeehouse”, we continued our celebration to a square in the center of town. We were disappointed, but we somehow managed to numb our pain. Maybe I need to go back to Amsterdam?

Today it occurred to me that I am dangerously close to my first month in London. Six days away, in fact. I decided to go to Carshalton and find the school that I will be teaching at next week. It was a 50 minute round trip venture, but I have to admit, that I was pretty impressed with the town/suburb/whatever. It was quiet (and I was there in the middle of the afternoon), and had…wait for it….TREES!! I had lunch, and I didn’t spend a fortune. It was overwhelming, life changing, earth shattering (I have tapped into my sarcasm). If I didn’t think that I would go stir crazy, I would actually move there. This is not the point though.

On my commute, I was forced to reflect on the past near-month. That’s what us teachers do, right? Reflect, reflect, reflect. We reflect on the good and bad, and see where we can improve. We write about our reflections, modify our styles, re-reflect, modify, and eventually find something that works for us; once it works we reflect again and find out that it needs more modification . Here is my reflection:

In the past 3.5 weeks, I have successfully:
1. Learned to cross a street with traffic coming at me from the wrong direction; related to this I have also learned to dodge traffic, jaywalk, and dash across busy intersections.
2. Only had one bus/coach honk at me for maybe waiting too long to cross…
3. Gotten the nerve up to cross the Vauxhaul Bridge, venture into an unknown area, and find London’s greatest sights; all within spitting distance of my hotel. That’s a big accomplishment for a girl from a small town.
4. Gotten the nerve to venture into the unknown after dark.
5. Gotten hired & fired all within 3 hours (and I’m still bitter about that).
6. Learned how to use an Oyster Card.
7. Ventured out of London, because I can recognize I need to find my sanity.
8. Made it through a full day without crying – that was yesterday.
9. Made through 2 full days without calling home.
10. Learned to be demanding when the situation calls for it; and to scowl at the a**hole who cuts me off on the sidewalk.
11. Gotten hives, and finally identified the source of the hives.
12. Come to terms with that fact that I have to let go of the comforts that I appreciate; doesn’t mean I like it, just means I have to accept it.
13. Found my addiction to the X Factor; Go Diana! (oh and Simon is less popular here than in America)
14. Learned the importance and necessity of having someone who can take some of the pain away. Whether it is 6000 miles or 10 miles, there is a difference between being independent and being reclusive.
15. Learned to ignore the daily reports of shootings and robberies. It’s life.
16. Accepted that I need to let go of what I know because I know absolutely nothing here.
17. Accepted that I periodically screw up so badly that it can’t be fixed overnight. Apparently problems can’t be fixed in half an hour, like on television?
18. Traded in terms like soccer, bus, silly, check mark and parking lot for words like football, coach, daft, tick, and car park. When in Rome (errrrr…London)….
19. Discovered London shopping…risky!
20. Slept for 12 straight hours (granted that was in Leeds, and now that I’m back in London, I’m back to not sleeping!)
21. Learned to interpret the tariffs on my mobile phone.

And what I still need to do:
1. Learn what a tariff actually is.
2. Accept that I need to move into more affordable accommodations.
3. Accept that I can’t always control the outcome.
4. Let go of more, and stop looking for the parallels.
5. Get through a second day without crying.
6. Stop second guessing, over analyzing, and thinking.
7. Learn how to sleep.
8. Stop praying that this will be over soon, and learn to love it.
9. Classroom management – London students aren’t the same as Ontario students.
9.5 Behaviour management – ya, the same as above.
10. Learn to take it one day at a time, not one year at a time.
11. Learn to keep the stiff upper lip of the Brits.
12. Learn that if I leave my umbrella at home, it will definitely rain.
13. Find all of the answers to the questions that are driving me up the bloody wall.

I’ve already outlasted Banbury. And to be honest – for as horrible as I have felt in London, I still feel better than I did when I was in Banbury. Maybe I can make this work? One day at a time…

Thursday, 30 October 2008

London Inconvenienced

I don’t know why I am doing this anymore; I have lost my perspective. Only three weeks have past since I arrived in the UK, and it feels like longer. I thought by this point that it would be moderately easier, but it truthfully isn’t. The UK is a miserable place right now – I am tired of hearing about the credit crisis; tired of hearing about people drowning in their debt. The BBC absolutely loves their drama. I understand only too well. The reality is, if I go home, I will be fully suffocated beneath my debt. I don’t know how I got here and London is destroying me.

Why am I doing this? Possibly the hope of making enough money to start paying back some of my debt? Yes – but then reality starts to hit, and I’m not sure I will have enough money to pay anything back. And London continues to destroy me. How sad is too sad? How difficult is too difficult? I am trying to make this work for me but I’m not sure if it is possible anymore. Everyday I am asked a plethora of questions by friends and family; I don’t have the answers to anything right now. It frustrates me and I am tired of trying to answer.

Next week I have a full week’s worth of work – barring I don’t get fired. I am worried about it as well as troubled by the idea that I am still in the wrong profession. It would be so much easier if I could just go home. Life isn’t supposed to be easy is it? Money doesn’t just fall from the sky, and problems just aren’t magically cured. Yesterday, on my way back from Leeds, our coach was diverted back north after an accident closed the M1. The reason? A guy jumped out in front of a vehicle and ended it all – this triggered a chain reaction accident that made an apparent mess of things. Again I am brought back to that conversation from 3 weeks ago, during which a man berated the individual who tied up the London tube system (how inconvenient and inconsiderate that your desperate measures would inconvenience larger society!!). Yesterday, along with being inconvenienced by the additional 1.5 hours added to my travel time, I kept thinking “lucky b*st*rd”. Don’t get me wrong, I love life. Right now I’m just disillusioned and dejected by it.

It has just occurred to me that Starbucks is playing Christmas music. Well isn’t that enough to make you want to jump in front of a lorrey? Seriously though – what do I do? My recruiters are trying to get me to move to Essex on a contract. I don’t want a contract – a contract means I have to stay. I don’t want to stay - I want December 22 to get here so I can go back to my life. This has inconvenienced me enough. Unfortunately short term aspirations of returning home are unrealistic – I don’t really want to go home. Stubborn girl never learns, does she? No, I’m wrong – its not London destroying me…I am singlehandedly destroying myself in this endeavour. How inconvenient.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

London ((STILL)) WIDE Awake :(

Do you remember that time in your life, where you thought to yourself that you wanted to be an adult? It was likely when you were around 15 years old and tired of adults not taking you seriously. You knew everything at that point – far more than the adults surrounding you. They seemed to have it so easy – blah, what are bills, anyway? It just can’t be that bad.
You got a little older, hit the cusp of 18 – a legal adult. That was the beginning of life. You would be taken seriously. In Ontario, where the legal drinking age is 19 – well…that’s the true mark of adulthood. Suddenly it was ok to get wasted on Friday night, spend Saturday morning tossing your guts into a toilet (if you made it), spend Saturday afternoon eating the greasiest cr*p you could get your hands on…recover…sleep…repeat. Maybe you went to college or university – class, sleep, drink, etc…class, sleep, drink…puke…repeat. You were an adult though. Those were the days.
At 18 I worked my butt off to try and fail my university classes – if I failed there were fewer expectations on me. I changed plans eventually. At 19, I decided it would be a good time to start enjoying the *periodic* alcoholic beverage. I can admit – I only went to class drunk once J - definitely made the Anthropology of Sex a little bit more interesting. I vomited in backyards, out of car windows, across parking lots…never made it to a toilet though. Good times.
Twenty hit, and so did my rebellion – let’s move to New Orleans. More puking…professions of undying love – a couple tattoos. More good times, memories – oh life was good. Oddly enough, I think I was more grounded then, than I am now. Life was good in the Big Easy- Jazz Fest, Lundi Gras with a Mardi Gras recovery.
By 23 my undying love was over (good choice), I had backpacked part of Europe with my friends (mmmm...more vomit, Spanish Sangria, Amsterdam, beer, sightseeing); loved the life, changed careers a couple of times. Shortly thereafter was a longer trip to Europe. Leanne could travel to escape.

Here I am at 28 and further behind than I was then. I have been lucky, and I know that. I’ve lived the life that some people dream but I’m absolutely clueless. I’m not na├»ve, though I can effectively come across that way. I’m starting to realize that part of the reason that I can’t sleep in London, is because there is a lull. Huh? Between turning off the lights and falling asleep there is a lull – during that lull I start to think. I have always had this problem. I used to have to keep the television on all night to help stop thinking. Unfortunately when you train yourself to sleep through t.v., you can train yourself to sleep through an alarm (which I really can’t afford to do). Needless to say I went through about a year of having to leave the t.v. on, so that I had something else to focus on at night.

My problem with thinking at night is that all of the self doubt arises. The realizations that I don’t know what I’m doing, or that I’m making huge mistakes. It is past midnight at the moment, and I don’t want to sleep because I don’t want to think. I keep remembering that I am an adult now, and it sucks. I joke about this with a friend of mine – “being an adult was supposed to be easy.” HA HA HA. Ultimately though, when you decide to change your life, you need to come to terms with the life you were trying to stop thinking about. Recently I have made some mistakes that are causing me to remember. I want to sleep so badly, but I just can’t. How did I get here? Moving to London wasn’t supposed to reiterate my own cluelessness. Maybe this is how people find religion?

Thursday, 23 October 2008

London Education

Today came and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Or maybe it was. Prior to leaving for the UK, I debated the decision on a daily basis – should I, shouldn’t I? Again, I now find I’m debating myself daily – should I go home or shouldn’t I? And like then, I find I go in spurts throughout the day. At certain times I feel that I can deal with this; being here, continuing to make a go. It can’t be that bad, can it? Then enters that plaguing thought: can I afford to stay? (no) can I picture myself getting up everyday to confront classroom life? (sometimes yes, sometimes no).

After a lengthy meeting with my recruiting agency, I have discovered that I need to tap into my inner b*tch. I have no doubt in my mind that I can do that – I can be that person at the best of times. Heck – London does an excellent job of dragging that aspect of my personality out. When I get cut off the sidewalk now, I resist the temptation to tell the other individual to J off. Another week and I’ll be a full blown nutcase (along with many other dispondent Londoners). Because I am still new to London, I still look at other individuals, and often wonder why so many people look so sad. Even so, with all of the temptation to return home, I find that when I go for a my nightly stroll, I suddenly feel the overwhelming urge to try and make this work. Tonight I walked down to the Parliament buildings/Big Ben and Westminster Abby – and at that moment, I couldn’t help thinking – I have to make this work. And then my stomach started growling, and I can’t help remembering the financial situation I am currently in. Financial implying that I have money, whereas in reality I am so far broke that I don’t know how I will ever surface again. Then I start to think “well I’m this far invested, I need to make a go of it”. And so the arguments continue.

The hardest decision I faced today was the impending flat. I have opted not to rent, and continue to live out of a hotel. In the long run this is more expensive option, but right now, given that I really can’t afford to outfit a flat, the hotel seems like the cheaper option. It also provides me with an easy-out mind game: if things get too difficult, I won’t have to “get out” of having a flat. If I can make a go of teaching in the UK, and if I do opt to take a northern contract (which my agency guaranteed me they were looking for), living out of the hotel is really the best option. As I watch money going down the drain, I will just have to keep reminding myself of that.

Again I am caught in that moment where I need to figure out how to mesh London Leanne with Canada Leanne. I want to hang on to my old life – what happens when it no longer needs me? My friends, mom, dogs – what happens when I’m eliminated from all of that? Maybe that is the hardest part of being here – realizing that my life can go on without me. Part of me has been reluctant to find new friends here, or get involved in new activities. Yet I realize, if ever I want to achieve any of my goals, I need to let it go. Even my agency told me today: “You need to let your Canadian classroom experience go. Forget it. It doesn’t apply here.” And they are right. Shaping a new life isn’t as easy as it seems. UK Leanne needs to let go. I’ve never been good with letting go though.

Now for the bigger pain in my *ss. I spent well over $40,000 to go to school Actually…wait…my mom spent a good chunk of that – OSAP covered the rest (yes, I will pay it back! F*king student loans). My teacher education YEAR (single) was by far the most expensive of those years. Basically, all of those wonderful, idealized classes that I took while in teacher’s education, need to be forgotten. That would be $8, 000 out the window. Does that p*ss me off? Yup, you bet. Unbelievably so. We would joke in the program, that the program was useless. In truth, it really was. Everything you learn about teaching, you learn in the classroom. The curriculum classes deal almost exclusively with the Ontario curriculum. So really, when it comes to teaching in England, teacher’s college really was fairly unnecessary. Bitter, bitter, bitter.

While it might be my personal motto – I just don’t know anymore. Ultimately though, London is about my own education - not the education of the students.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

London Unscripted

Today is one of those days that just won’t end. It has been a long and tiring – and altogether emotionally draining. I had a terrible day in the classroom. Wait…no…I didn’t…I was informed that I had a terrible day in the classroom. I am at a loss to understand this world that I have entered. Never have I seen what I am being exposed to in London. Do I feel any moderate levels of support? Not really. The only people who are supporting me are the people furthest removed from the situation – my mother and my friends (including a poor guy in Leeds who doesn’t deserve my daily breakdowns).

I keep asking myself – wouldn’t it just be easiest to pack it in and go home? God yes, it really would. That’s a given. But what do I go home to? A minimum wage job that won’t pay my bills? Two minimum wage jobs that won’t pay? How about three part-time minimum wage jobs that don’t pay? I don’t think I have a choice – I need to make this work, or die trying. My hometown has just lost another 300 jobs – what the hell am I going to do there?

Recently I told my friend – we don’t need to know the end result, we just need to deal with the present. I’m the one who isn’t dealing with the present though. I keep looking at this whole situation from the long term – keep thinking that I can’t do this for 3, 6, 12 months. I’m not seeing this from a daily perspective. I can fairly easily get home - its not impossible. Home is a mere plane ride away and therefore not insurmountable. I need to deal with this.

I have spent my afternoon reading blogs written by other Canadian teachers struggling in London. I’m not alone. These teachers have had objects thrown at them in the classroom (Oh what I have to look forward to!). I have read news articles on the record number of British teachers leaving the profession because it is too difficult to be a teacher in England. I am not alone then. I think the problem is, is that I am not used to outright failure. And today that is how I feel – like a failure. I am failing myself, the people close to me, my agency – everyone. It would just be so easy to give up right now.

I don’t understand it though. In a country that prides itself on its “stiff upper lip” and “high standards of behaviour” (buzz terms that you will hear repeatedly), I am at a loss to understand why things are the way they are. It makes virtually no sense to me. I have heard recruiters compare teaching in London to teaching in Toronto. I have friends who teach in Toronto – I have never heard the stories that I hear out of London. Is this an example of the deviousness of recruiters? I don’t know. I’m at such a loss. I trained for 8 years in Anthropology – I’ve tried to look at this from a cultural perspective. I realize that culture plays a huge part of this. I’m still too new to understand it though. Maybe I am just better off in anthropology or archaeology. I want to make this work though. How can I do that? That brings me to tomorrow…

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

London (WIDE) Awake

Transitioning from a small community in Northern Ontario, to large metropolitan megalopolis (is that the correct term?) is a challenge. I was told that the first six weeks would be the hardest. I'm only at the two week mark and it is insanely difficult. I don't know if the 6 week time period is for a couple, or for an individual - maybe it is 12 weeks for an individual. All I know is that my nerves are fried. The traffic is unbelievable and the noise is overwhelming - I don't know where people can think here - they certainly can't go to the Thames Walk or Hyde Park or what have you - there is traffic surrounding both places. Maybe they have just adapted...

Leanne doesn't know if she can adapt in London. I have found that if I stay awake for 2 nights, usually on the 3rd I can actually get some sleep. Unfortunately, this method poses somewhat problematic in terms of energy. I have also found that I can sleep between the hours of 8:30am and 10:30am...this is problematic for work. I don't entirely understand why I sleep better during daylight hours. In actuality the noise is far greater, but for some reason I can block it out. I have tried a sundry of methods to help myself sleep. These methods are generally related to tiring myself out - brisk powerwalks, not eating, crying (you know, emotional upheavel is usually exhausting). But no. I don't sleep. For the record, while I used to drink execessive quantities of coffee and tea, I've basically stopped.

While in Sheffield I made the mistake of drinking coffee at midnight. I have never had such a negative impact from caffiene - at 4am I was still wide awake. Luckily I did fall asleep by 6am, only to wake up at 8am still on a caffinated rush. Needless to say I spent the rest of the day fairly groggy, pursuing the next the next coffee-rush. Do you think that ment that I needed to go to bed early??? No. not at all. Still wide awake.

London isn't only impacting my sleep patterns. I may have already mentioned that London is creating a fair amount of stress in my life. My body's response?? Hives. I am excessively allergic to my London stress. Last week I was prescribed medication, which was successful for a short time. As soon as I returned to London from Sheffield, so did the hives. What's a girl to do?? And therein lies the true question - what do I do? By this point in Banbury I was headed home. This time I am struggling to stay - but without work, and nearly out of money, what exactly am I suppoesd to do? Will it get better?? I just don't know.

Monday, 20 October 2008

London Lost

A weekend escape from London was exactly what I needed - to help me realize just how unhappy I am in this whole situation. As I sit in Starbucks on a Monday afternoon (not working), I am worried about employment, my recruitment agency, forging a new life here, etc. I came back to England to figure out if I made the right decision in leaving Banbury. I think I am realizing, that yes, in fact I did.

Upon my return to London, I found myself in tears as we turned into Victoria Station. This underlying feeling of not wanting to be here, had finally set in (yet again). Is it England? Is it London? Is it teaching? I don't know. Could I ever be happy here? I just don't know. Maybe in a different profession (let's face it, I am not excited about teaching). I want to make this work, but how much sadness is too much sadness?

I can recognize the potential within myself, to be able to change the world, and make some sort of positive contribution to society. Unfortunately, Thunder Bay is not really the prime location to undertake such an endeveaour. More unfortunate, is the fact that Leanne is fairly certain that she belongs in Thunder Bay. Most likely, I should have left ten years ago, when I was younger and more rebellious, and ready to seize the world by the horns. Now I'm ready to come home to familiarity every day - I don't want the challenges of learning to adapt to a new environment. Maybe some of us were just meant to be travellers.

Sometimes I start to become moderately comfortable in this environment. I can't put my finger on what the exact problem is. I don't know if it is the teachers lifestyle. The commitment to the profession. The commitment to a new environment. I really hate commitment. I want a job that I can go to at 9am and leave at 5pm and just be done with it. Supply teaching can sort of give me that. I'm not particularly fond of getting up at 5:45am and going to bed by 10:30 though...that's the lifestyle. I'm also not fond of disruption..and this has brought immense disruption to my life.

Now I'm in a pickle (because I can't spell conundrum??). Do I rent the flat and force myself to stay until at least the end of January? Or do I return home? Is two weeks really a fair trial? It is sooo easy to go home - maybe too easy. Maybe I need to force myself to stay out of my comfort zone. I don't know. Sheffield reminded me so much of Thunder Bay - maybe that should have been my transition zone. Or am I afraid to let myself like it here? What if I do start to enjoy it? Perhaps that is the scarier unknown.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Sheffield Lost & the Croydon Facelift

Eventually you will find the need to leave London - it took me less than two weeks to recognize this. I can respect that many individuals will find London to be the hotbed of culture, entertainment, culinary desires, fashion, etc, etc, etc. And it is. I, on the other hand, view London as the epicenter of congestion, noise and stress. After 10 nights of moderate sleep, weeks of stress, and an underlying desire to go home, I bought a ticket to Sheffield.

Located in Yorkshire, it was basically the furthest point that I could escape to...and after my first day in the classroom I definitely needed the escape (btw - everything you hear about teaching in UK classrooms is apparently accurate!!). I arrived late fairly into the evening, but was cheerfully greeted by an overly happy taxi driver.

"You are from Ireland, yes??" (said in a delightful Yorkshire accent).


"Ireland, yes?"


"Oh, I'm bad at accents!"

"Very bad indeed."

My cab driver then rambled on for the next 15 minutes, almost nonstop. At the end of the trip, he shaved a bit of the fare, so I didn't have to break a 5 pound note.

Hang on? A friendly, talkative person? Willingness to loose money?? Am I still in England? Must be an anomoly!

Tenatively I checked into my hotel. I know what I am paying in London for a rat trap - paying around the same price here, I am fairly skeptical.

Wait...the Sheffield Park Hotel has a beautiful foyer. No. Can't be right....just for show...

I go up to my room, via an elevator...surely they have put me in the room under the stairs...or maybe in a back shed...

I step into my room, and instant glee sets in - A huge bed...a real bed, not just a mattress on the floor. Four pillows (not stained) all for me! (with a real shower/bathtub!) I have arrived :)

Forty minutes later I venture to the Indian restaurant down the road. Here I am initially greeted by waiters a little bit more in line with London. Or are they? Within half an hour they are asking me to show them how to rub my belly and tap my head. Questions...tons and tons of questions - about America (apparently I was the expert; one or two about Canada). They want to know if the America from film and cinema is the real America?? Do they really do magic on the streets? What about McCain and Obama?? What about the cost of living? For forty minutes they bombarded me with questions (oh ya, and I did get dinner too). We part like old friends. I am so confused.

Hang on...two encounters with Sheffielders (did I mention the delightful Yorkshire accent?) and both times I had people who wanted to talk?? I'm more than confused. During my first night in Sheffield I actually talked more than I've talked in the last 2 weeks (minus shouting my way through the day in the classroom).

Morning comes. No. Early afternoon comes. I take a bus to downtown Sheffield. Its sort of like Thunder Bay, but on a larger scale (I'm kind of comfortable here). I wander the busy pedestrian market, and am not banged into once. Where is my human contact? I have become accustomed to jostling. No, on second thought, I might actually like this. Wow..I could move here today.

I take a closer look at the people, and lo and behold - there are fat people here! Where is London Anorexic???

The dresscode? Somewhat along the lines of Thunder Bay - worn jeans, sweaters (comfort over style????). I think I'll just leave my bags in London and let the hotel dispose of my things. Material possessions are irrelevant. I'm not going back.

I stop for lunch in Pizza Hut (glamorous and foreign, I realize) and the couple at the next table strike up random convesations with me - what is going on here??? I had heard rumours that Yorkshire was nicer, but you know how rumours are....

Yes, I know what you are thinking - its a bad decision to judge a city on first impressions. Regardless, my first impression of London was sheer hatred, and that has never changed. My first impression on New Orleans was a bit of disgust, and that is something that continually confronted me during my years there. Truthfully it is a tough call, but I recognize potential here - and maybe the rebirth of my sanity.

Yesterday was the first time that I have had someone actually initiate a random conversation with me in London. While waiting for the bus in Croydon, I met a man who engaged me in conversation straight up until we parted ways at Victoria Station (he even revamped his route to continue along my journey). It was educational and informative (e.g. the Croydon Facelift is a hair style that results in skin being pulled straight back), and he was quick to point out that Londoners don't talk. I had not noticed!

The only hard part about being in Sheffield is returning to London. I am dreading my return to the city :(

Thursday, 16 October 2008

London Recruiting, Doctors & Lizzy

Oh the breadth of information to discuss today :)

I am not working again today - this time it is by choice...
Several days ago I woke up with a couple of red bumps - assuming they were bug bites (though I have yet to see a biting insect in London - apparently the one benefit of smog), I chose to ignore them. Progressively over the next couple of days these bumps increased in number and worsened. Finally last night I decided that I would get them checked out.
Lo and behold, after waiting for over a week to get employment, my recruiting agency would call me with work this morning (we shall return to the topic of my recruiting agency in a few minutes). Not wanting to go into the classroom looking diseased, I declined in order go to the doctor.
In Thunder Bay, going to the doctor is a bit of an ordeal. Basically you need to be 1) bleeding severly (to the point that death is imminent) 2) be in some comatose state from which you cannot be roused 3) experiencing moderate to severe chest pains (nearly dead is preferable, and make sure you show up in an ambulance not in a private vehicle) or 4) 9cm dialated, just about ready to pop a kid (though having it in the car on the way to the hospital would be preferable; pop & discharge). So, needless to say, I generally would not go to the doctor for a case of hives. Case in point, in June I was horribly plagued by the little bastards, and opted to sit it out for 2 weeks.
The only reason I decided to go this time was again, because I could not stand the thought of looking diseased in the the itching is maddening. Unfortunately, after my experiences with healthcare in TBay, I was somewhat skeptical (it was actually my recruitment agency that told me to go to the doctor, I was just going to head to the pharmacy).

Sooo...I went to a walk-in clinic at Victoria Station (yes...right in in the station). There was this tiny elevator that magically transported me to a fully functioning doctors office (highly mysterious and somewhat scandalous). Paperwork...a bit of a wait...and boom! A doctor. Brief examination....prognosis: hives related to stress? Yes..that's right...hives related to stress. I am allergic to stress (does this qualify me for worker's comp or unemployment?) the moment that is her guess; I am on 3 different medications to test her theory. Leanne can't remember to feed herself daily - how is she supposed to remember to take 6 tablets?
Filling the prescriptions? Just go to Boots Pharmacy (yes, also located in the train station - we really need these fully functioning stations in Canada) and it will be filled. Magical.
So anyway...that was my first experience with British healthcare - a generally positive experience, which I would be willing to repeat (though not entirely by choice). I am also thinking about living in Victoria Station.

Oh yeah - as I left the station, who did I run in to? None other than the Queen! (Liz not drag) Seriously - her motorcade was passing - and I did see her :) Hello England!

Now let's return to the topic of my recruitment agency. If memory serves me correctly, I am fairly sure I have blogged about recruiters. If I haven't, let me summarize - I don't trust recruiters. Recruiters typically are like salesmen & politicians (who are glorified salesmen) - promises, promises, promises but nothing to show in the end. This is why I have never looked into teaching in SE Asia, and why I was initially highly skeptical about accepting work in England. I have been with two English recruitment agencies, and both use the same buzz words "Fantastic", "Ok Leanne, we'll get back to you soon." "Take Care"...yes I know those are standardized wordings - but its the way in which they are said - I actually can't tell the difference between the people I had recruiting me in Banbury and the agency I have in London. At the end of the day these agencies are in a business - and no matter how much they claim to be concerned about your wellbeing, their responses are standardized (scripted) and their endgame is financial. Fantastic. (I actually hate that word now)

So...bkgrnd information: last December I was contacted by the agency I am presently with. I signed with them, but became increasingly disgruntled by a lack of communication, and a seemingly constant inability to keep track of my information. So I changed agencies. Then came Banbury. On my way out of London in April, the original agency asked me to stop in and "talk". I agreed.
Then came London.

I have spent 6 months evaluating what transpired in Banbury. There are so many reasons I couldn't cope. A large part of it boils down to the fact that I had far too much time on my own to think. Then develop anxiety, self doubt, etc. I could feel my heart double beating, everything swirling...Then I just cracked. (No hives though).

This time was supposed to be different. My handler (as I will refer to her), was aware of my situation, and was going to look out for my best interests. I had assumed that work would start as soon as I got here - it didn't. There was additional paperwork which delayed the process. Things were not in order. I haven't seen my "handler", and instead have been dealing with two other recruiters who are not aware of the situation. I have had to tell the same story over again (I do see them write information down, yet it never seems to make it into my file?? Or maybe I have like 30 files, each with its own information that cannot be opened more than once). The result??? I have been left to myself for 10 days to think. And develop anxiety. And develop hives. And remember that I do not want to go into the classroom. And decide that I want to go home. I think we calls this "coming full circle". Leanne is not a happy camper.

I have developed so much disdain over the idea of teaching, that I actually went to a doctor today - something I haven't done since 2000 because I have an unnatural fear of doctors...

I've had too much time again, and am increasingly skeptical of recruiters. As I sit here trying not to book a flight home, I am also weighing my options. What do I do if I don't teach? Can I afford to stay in England, if I find another job? Is there another job in England (damn the Credit Crisis). What do I do? Where do I go? Can this just be over? Luckily one of the meds that I was prescribed is also an antidepressant (I'm fairly certain anyway) so at least I can be stoned for a couple of days. But much education do I have to go through until I get it right?

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Not a darn thing to do with London

**Over the past ten years I have been moderately political active. Each election, at all levels, I have generally picked a candidate to support, and volunteered for their campaign. Initially a Liberal, I became increasingly disgruntled by the state of our region under Liberal leadership. Typical to political form, the promises were made, but nothing was ever delivered. This election I was unable to participate due to employment with a particular non partisan government body. My employment is over, and my contract is nulled...So for a minute, you will have to deal with it while I hop up on my soap box (That's England talking!!)**

At 4am this morning I received a text message...I was asleep - almost (not sleeping much these days!). Anyway the message announced that the NDP had swept Thunder Bay. I do not want to get into Canadian politicals, but all I can say is "WOOHOO!".
Since 1988, under the leadership of our local Liberal, Thunder Bay has seen a steadily declining population. The reason? Jobs (or lack there of). Poor economy. Collapse of industry. Northern Ontario offers few opportunities to those of us who are young and/or educated. Case in point - I am sitting in London, hoping for work. It's not jus the young and/or educated - its everyone. The result of mass joblessness?? Depression, alcoholism, etc. I am not saying that Thunder Bay is a depressed alcoholic - but there is an alarming sense of disparity within the city. Was it my first choice to leave TBay? No. But you can't pay the bills with air.
You might wonder why I blame our former leader. Well...he did very little to encourage economic growth. Now I know that every Liberal will disagree with me. But seriously - since when are telemarketing businesses, a sign of positive job growth? A university and college sit in our city, graduating some of the most inquiring, motivated minds in Canada -and the result? These individuals are forced to move elsewhere for employment. How many of us have friends and family currently residing in Alberta? Too many.
Industries are collapsing in Northern Ontario. Luckily mining development is well underway, but this will be beneficial only to a small segment of the population.

I have great hope and confidence that the reintroduction of the NDP to Northern Ontario will provide new hope to our region. I do believe that Mr. Hyer (and I'm sure Mr. Rafferty, though I do not know him personally) will work hard for our region, and do everything possible to bring back stability. It won't happen over night - it can't...too much time has been allowed to pass for the changes to be quick - but it has to get better. Both candidates will face scrutiny, and increased judgement from the average individual..strength in the face of adversity.

I am not a political scientist. I am not an economist - just someone discouraged by the state of a struggling city.

**I'll step down off my soapbox now, albeit with a look of relief, and hope for the future :)

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

London Employed

Here's a hint - the frequancy of my blogging corresponds to my own personal uncertainty. Happy Leanne = less blogging . Stressed out, uncertain, scared Leanne = more blogging. Just saying.

Anyway - I am presently waiting a call to go into work. This may or may not come (would it be horrible to admit that I would prefer it not come?). In other words, this may be a short entry. Here is what I can admit: I am scared sh*tless to go into the classroom. The reality: I have not taught in over a year, and am fairly certain that I am an incompetant teacher. Ok, Ok - this is a sentiment reiterated by many new teachers. Unlike other new teachers, I am certain I am a bad teacher. Ok...again, I'm sure other new teachers will say the same thing. But really. I am certain. I'm a science teacher - how Leanne ended up as a science teacher is beyond the scope of understanding. Let me think...hmm...what qualified me to teach science? *waiting....waiting...* No answer.

No, in reality, I do know what qualified me - eight years of undergraduate classes that were spread over topics ranging from the Philosophy of Sex & Moral Issues to Forensic & Archaeological Microscopy (sounds fancy, doesn't it?) & Human Skeletal and Dental Biology. I have a fairly moderate understanding of the biological sciences (specifically anything to do with bones, and maybe bone pathology), and a decent understanding of earth science (I like to dig in the earth). I do NOT have an understanding of chemistry. Or Physics...and that's what scares me about teaching science (I also have no math background, which is even more troubling).

How did I get accepted to teacher's college specializing in science? it a shortage in qualified science teachers, a quota that needed to be filled, and again - those eight years of university courses (I think the governing body decided that somewhere along the way I must have aquired enough knowledge over the years)...

Oh this is good (ADD moment) - I'm watching the british news, and you know how Brits love their sensationalism - anyway this woman went away on vacation, and while she was gone, a cleaning company came and emptied her flat into the garbage. Right down to the shower curtain. She estimates her loss at 50,000 pounds (I will learn how to make a pound sign eventually) and the company has reimbursed her 50 pounds...FIFTY! Can you imagine coming home to that??? I think there is a mental note and lessson here...

So anyway, my hope is that I don't have to teach science -at least not serious science. You know what I am talking about - chemistry and physics are the perceived serious sciences. The biological sciences derived in both of those topics are also considered the serious sciences. Soo...out of fear, I purchased Bill Bryson's "A Short History of Nearly Everything" (Thanks Judy!) - there is nothing like teaching myself science out of a Bryson book. Luckily he seems pretty keen on learning, and I see nothing wrong with utilizing information from someone who has already reasearched the topic. I could spend years pouring through textbooks, and learn absolutely nothing. He has done an excellent job of presenting topics, without the waste space. At least I think he has...let's face it - I have a short attention span, and I'm barely through the first chapter on the Big Bang.

When I take a closer look at my predicament, I feel an overwhelming sense of selfishness. My fears about teaching, and desire not to teach are ridiculous. England, like America, is in a major financial crisis (or Credit Crunch). Around me, people are struggling to cope with meeting their daily needs. Families are loosing their homes, and struggle to provide the basic necessities for their children. Here I am, in England, not a citizen, making what will be a fairly good wage. Meanwhile, around me, people are trying to sustain themselves on minimum wage, while living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. In it's entirety, the UK as a whole is incredibly expensive. I googled the UK's minimum wage rate - it sits in the vicinity of 6 pounds or just shy of $12.00 CDN an hour. An eight hour work day will result in a net pay of about 50 pounds or $100.

$12.00 an hour? Sounds great, right? Yet in Ontario, our minimum wage (and I am guessing) is around $8.50-$9.00 an hour. So Englanders make an additional $3.00 over us. Swell. Now let's examine the cost of living. In Ontario, it is entirey feasible to get by on $1000 for rent & utilites monthly. Daily, you can sustain yourself on about $15.00 for food. Add a little entertainment. Maybe the internet. Maybe a couple books. Let's add an additional $150 to our costs. Now lets look at England - I am going to be paying $1600 a month on rent and utilities (for a basic room with a shared kitchenette). Transport? about $10/ - varies widely - but a cup of coffee is about $3.00 (get the idea?). Entertainment? Who can afford it? Ontario $12.00/hr is great. In England it is appalling.

What do these calculations mean for me? Listening to people struggling to make ends meet, seeing how the locals cannot find work, or cannot find decently paying work, is startling to me. I am here as a foreigner, making a darn good wage (with my expenses potentially reimbursed), all because I happend to go to school for an additional year. I have an English friend making $100/day (CDN)...I'm here making $240-260/day. In America there is animosity towards foreigners - especially those in this exact situation. Truthfully I do feel guilty. When you start to contemplate these calculations, you realize - how f*cking daft am I?

Thanks to the British sensationalist media, I am daily confronted by people who are in absolute dire situations. The BBC latches on to crisis like a leach to skin. I watch the details of people who are attempting to survive the credit crunch, and cannot fully understand it. Then there are the other stories - about the people who have real problems - children struggling to survive, health issues, poverty, collapse, war, etc, etc, etc. What do I have to be upset about?

Ultimately, you knew the credit crunch would eventually enter this blog. I have been in the UK for a week now, and yes it is overwhelming. I am removed from my real-life, and am developing this second life far removed from the first. It is a difficult feeling to comprehend. Leanne Canada versus Leanne UK. They told me that the first 6 weeks were the hardest - dropping everything, moving half way around the world, starting a new life, new career, new everything...its not easy. I am reluctant to have a second life - I hate change - and that's the hardest part. Trying to find that point that both lives can be integrated. Even so, at the end of the day, I know it could be worse and thank goodness I have the BBC to remind me of that.

Monday, 13 October 2008

London Hunt

I am not going to openly say that I have been lazy about my pursuit of a flat. Instead, I will say that I have been less than inspired...far less...
On a daily basis, I have been checking the local flat rental websites, and everytime I am overwhelmed by a barrage of photos, advertising "newly renovated", "modern", "easily accesible", "convienently located" flats in the London area (keep in mind, that the London area seems to be the size of Southern Ontario). Needless to say, every flat claims to have the same features and benefits. The only variation is the price - the price has reaquainted me with my gag reflex.
As I am moderately overwhelmed by the city...and as I am carrying enough luggage to sink a ship, seeking out flats in Croydon (East or West), Putney (Bridge or East), Clapham (Junction or Common), Balham, Brixton, far more daunting than I am prepared to deal with. So naturally, being a creature of habit, when the Manager of my hotel informed me that he had a flat to rent, I leapt at the chance.
The benefits of this decision were borne strictly from laziness - the flat is located right across the street from my hotel (no major luggage movement!). But it also fit into the scheme I had developed in Banbury....
I will not rent through an agency
I will not be locked into a lease
I will not spend more than 150pounds/wk
I will not spend additional money on utilites.
Ultimately I have put all of my eggs into one basket - very risque. Even more risky is that I am going to hopefully take the first place that I have viewed. The rent is a bit more, I have to pay for is in close proximity to two tube stations, Central London, Clapham (Junction and Common!!), and it will allow me time to either aquaint myself with other areas of London or to continue further into the depths of England. I will be committed to three months here - and barring I don't crack in another week, this truthfully does seem like the best option.
I have been a landlord. I can see all of the mistakes that I could potentially be making - but I am making those mistakes with complete clarity....I think....

Saturday, 11 October 2008

London Leanne vs. The Laundry Part Deux

The title of this blog is a throw back to Banbury. Briefly, while in Banbury, I decided to do my laundry (I know, novel idea!) - unfortunately I was confronted by a space age machine, that promptly shrunk my clothes. I would like to say that it was not my fault that this happend, and that the intoxicated state that I may (or may not) have been in, was not a contributing factor to the problem. Needless to say, my first attempt at laundry in Britian was a stunning failure. Never did I attempt the laundry again.

As I am starting work early next week, I decided that today would be an idea day to do my weeks worth of accumulated laundry. Admittedly I was skeptical, but decided that since I am going to be here for awhile (that's the plan, anyway), I could not avoid this task. Luckily there is a laundramat just around the corner.

Well, I am pleased to report several things. Firstly, there was an older couple who were obviously laundry virgins (meaning they were more incompetent than me). As they are travelling through the area they were forced to do their own laundry (oh my!) - and let me just say - they were fairly excited by the whole process! Clean laundry...out of a!! WOW...round of applause. Secondly, I am pleased to report that the machines were derived from North American machines. In other words, aged peices of cr*p that are dirtier on the inside than the outside, with buttons falling off, and should have been retired 20 years ago. These are the machines that I understand :) Finally, I am thrilled to report - I don't think I shrunk anything. This is additionally good, because I have had to relegate myself to eating high calorie junk because it is cheap and I dont have a fridge. Do you realize that the only effective way to eat healthy is to have a fridge? Anyway, I can't afford to shrink my clothes - heck - in another week they will likely need expansion. All in all, I lost a sock, but no that's no great problem (remember, I did go through a year of mismatched socks - mainly because I didn't care but also because I always loose socks).

So that's that. I have plenty of time on my hands today, which I should appreciate while it lasts. At least now I have laundry Saturday's to look forward to! I can also always hope that there will be someone around who actually makes me look semi-competent (I will be adopting this for a teaching strategy).

Friday, 10 October 2008

London Overtaken

Its Friday evening, and I am bored in London. The idea of staggering back into an area overrun with tourists, is highly unappealing (aren’t I just the local??). I’d love to go and shop on Oxford Street, but the idea of dodging despondent Londoners and tourists alike, requires more energy then I feel like expending. I have made no secret of my dislike for London. The locals are cold and full of self importance – if an individual dropped dead on the street in front a Londoner, the Londoner would merely step over the body and continue on their journey. How to best illustrate an example of this mentality? Let me recount a conversation from two days ago…

A Englishman walks into a business, and apologizes for his tardiness; he then follows his apology with his excuse: “Oh yes, I was at the Tube Station, and further up the line someone decided to jump in front of an oncoming train. Delayed the whole system…made a mess of transit.”

Concern for the mental health of the individual that felt the need to take his own life in front of charging train? Zero. Disdain for the interruption to travel?? Well that’s the whole point! (*insert a Mastercard slogan here*..hmmm…Prescription for mood stabilizers 45 pounds. Formal psychological help 250 pounds an hour. Jumping in front of a train during rush hour traffic, whereby disturbing London commuters…priceless.) Truly I am being sarcastic here, and do sympathize for the individual driven to such final means.

Concerned about the reality of living in this city, I said to a friend… “I could see becoming lost in this city…not lost, in terms of search & rescue…but lost in the grand scheme of things. I could see becoming this, and I don’t want to.” His response? “Then don’t.” But really, is that possible…

I rarely hear English being spoken in this city. In fact, I hear everything but English – I’m sure upon closer examination you would likely find languages previously thought to be extinct, quite alive and well here. London is now comprised of a larger than large number of immigrants, visa holders (such as myself), refugees, etc. Every street corner seems to have an English school on it (which still doesn’t seem to change the fact that no one here seems to speak English). Many of these individuals have come from humbling circumstances in Third World countries – and even so – they have become London. Can you live here without letting it overtake you? My friend’s advice to me: “You will get used to it.” Yet I can’t help but wonder, when you get used to it, does it become you?

Talking on the phone (errr…mobile) has become a challenge. London is so loud that it is nearly impossible to hear the ring of a phone. If by chance you do hear your phone, good luck trying to talk. Shouting matches ensue as people cram the streets, each one on a mobile phone, all vying to be heard over one another and over the passing cars. I have attempted to find a quiet location to talk – which has been largely unsuccessful, minus the back alleys. First rule of travel: don’t venture down the back alley alone. Thank goodness rules were meant to be broken.

If you read my blog during my last sojourn into English living, you will know that I have already complained about personal space in London. I just need to reiterate – my personal space has been largely violated. Instead of getting my 20 feet of Canadian personal space, I get -5 feet…and as enjoyable as an elbow in the ribs is (human contact, how touching), I’d prefer not having that experience at all. I am getting to be fairly good at dodging people though (and let me tell you, it’s an awesome workout – forget the gym – head to Oxford Circus…or…better yet…go to a tube station during rush hour – also a good idea if you are trying to learn to deal with your temper and/or stress).

Yet when all is said and done – it’s London. London can be what London likes, and do as London pleases. And right now London in wearing a sombrero, is dressed in a multicoloured poncho, and is advertising a salsa club…

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

London Daily

I ache. That's really all I have to say. lol...I can barely move my neck or shoulders - soooo...being lazy, instead of going to look for a new hotel in a better location for tomorrow night (and face having to haul my luggage), I am moving two doors down from my existing place. Call it pattern behaviour...I can't face having to be a pack animal again tomorrow. My body is not conditioned for such activity.

On Day 2, I have accomplished little. I did get dressed up and visit my agency (note: the look of relief on the hotel manager's face was fairly evident when I went out this morning - you could literally read his mind: "oh thank goodness! she isn't always a filthy Canadian backpacker! she can clean up!"). As I am running out of time on my internet connection, let me summarize:
I am becoming my own company.
I cannot cross the street without nearly getting hit by vehicles (see a former Banbury post for more info)
I have decided to avoid jay walking until I can properly cross a street
I am looking for a flat in London, but because I am lazy I am considering living in Westminster (again, to avoid moving my luggage!).

Needless to say, on Day 2 I am still surviving- though with moderately more pain than I like :)

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

London Beaten

Well as my first day in London draws to a close, I'm pleased to say that I am still standing. Barely. I am being overcome by jet lag. No...correction - I am being overcome by the 4 hours of sleep I've had in the past 60-odd hours. I am fighting desperately to make it past 5pm GMT!
So...I am pleased to say that while flying into London on this attempt at UK-living, I did not experience the sheer regret that I did previously. I did not have that "wtf I am doing-moment" - mainly because I was having a get-this-f*cking-plane-on-the-ground-before-we-all-die-moment. I'm not saying that the few bouts of turburlance were terrible...I'm just saying that I'm not usually inspired to throw-up during turbalance (and last night I definitely fought such desire!). Possibly my nauseated stomach could have been related to our preboarding call

"Ladies and gentlemen we are sorry for the delay. The maintenance crew is on the aircraft fixing it. We don't know what is broken, we just know that they are there. So the plane is being fixed and we will be boarding as soon as it is. Again we are sorry for the delay."

Leanne didn't need to know that the plane was broken just prior to her getting on it. I can handle broken toys, broken plates, etc...I even handled a Guatemalan chicken bus ride during which the floor beneath my seat was apparently missing....but the machine that is carrying me 30,000 feet above a black abyss is not supposed to be broken. That's all I'm saying.

So that crisis everted, I then spent the next 8 hours stressing over the possibility of deportation at immigration . Immigration wasn't too bad...except for that little issue that my passport photo-Leanne and real-life Leanne don't really resemble each other anymore. Immigration did catch that. I have two options - either put all the weight back on...or go to the Canadian embassy for some consultation. (eating does sound like fun though!).

Immigration If you will remember from Banbury, the UK has been a stronghold of chip & pin technology. Fortunately in April, they still understood my archaic American credit cards. Fast forward 6 months - my credit cards are no longer archaic - they are completely null and void. This has left me scrambling to figure out how I'm going to live until I start getting paid. That crisis has not been averted. Oh ya...and throw in the fact that I have misplaced my debit card password for my UK bank account - I would say that the financial aspects of my day have not gone so well. (that could be the sleep deprived jet lag talking).

My success on the day? I got a mobile phone. I don't know how to use it. I don't know how to call anyone - but I do have a lifeline to the outside (its a small glimmer of hope). Unfortunately my laptop is now rejecting my internet step forward, 2 steps back...and so it goes :)
Oh ya...and its raining. Welcome to London :)) Luckily the men who run the hotel that I am staying in seem to think I'm an idiot and are more than willing to help me. Not necessarily as a coincidence they have also put me in the room closest to the know what I'm saying (this room is actually bigger than the one I requested - which is somewhat scary cuz I'm staying in a closet.)

Ok so that's my story for today. Oh yes..and in reference to the title - my bags really have battered me - heavy luggage + shoulder straps = terrible bruising and injury across my collar bones, shoulders and arm. its tempting just to move into the hotel to avoid moving again (and keep in mind...I actually have about 60 pounds LESS luggage than I did when I went to Banbury).


Monday, 6 October 2008

London Secrecy

As you may have noticed I have published two blog postings that I have been sitting on for the past couple of weeks. The reason? I decided to quietly return to England - and I was fairly successful in that decision. Right now I am in Toronto Airport waiting for my delayed flight, absolutely DREADING having to claim my luggage in London . Oh it is heavy..
At the moment I am a mix of emotions, and am kind of craving a hamburger. Random thought, I know . Part of me is excited to return...part of me already wonders what the h*ll I am doing. As the plane departed from Thunder Bay I bid farewell to home - though I was a little distraught that cloud cover prevented me from actually seeing my home!
Ok...I know I am going to get cut off very shortly by a boarding call...more will come later.
So I am down to the final three weeks before departure. The anxiety has started…I’m having those “wtf” moments. I have begun second guessing whether or not I am doing the right thing. The anxiety is then greeted by excitement for what lies ahead. Stress. Eagerness. More stress. Relief. It is an emotional rollercoaster – and I am so incredibly happy to be riding it!

If you read my earlier blog posts (and I don’t know why you would have), but if you haven’t, let me summarize. I moved to Banbury with zero emotion. I wasn’t stressed. No excitement. No second guessing. I was detached, aloof, dissassociative. Numerous people asked me “Well you must be excited?” No. “You must be nervous?” Nope. “You must be looking forward to England?” Not really. And so on….I was overwhelmingly detached from the whole process.

This might work for some, but it didn’t work for me one iota. In my emotional detachment, I suddenly found myself very attached to the reality of my decision. Suddenly, while in Banbury, I found myself crashing down, as I came to terms with the longterm ramifications of my decisions. How to cope? Well I didn’t. I moved back to Canada.

So now, attempt number two is well underway. I have the emotions this time, and can look at the reality of this decision. I know it will be no easier than the last time, but I am somehow more prepared. Or else I will have an even more tumultuous breakdown in London. This could go two ways. We shall see, won’t we?

A secret revealed

It’s 1:30 am and I should be in bed, but true to form, I have one more thing I can procrastinate about: sleep! I haven’t blogged during the last two months, and feel that it’s time to catch up as I embark on my newest journey. Alright, maybe that is a little bit melodramatic – it’s not really a new journey – it’s a retracing of a past journey, but with the lessons of the present. So I am reshaping my blog and putting it back on the path that it was initially meant to take – this blog was not about me regretting every decision I’ve ever made…it was about me learning to live, while living in a foreign land. Yet, I did learn something amidst the regret…and noooo, I am not sharing what that lesson has been.
So tonight I start anew, and find out just how many of my friends read my blog J You see, I am not going to openly tell anyone of what is being shared in this blog. At least, not initially – eventually everything will come out, but for the meantime, the future is for me. Luckily I have this blog to write out my grievances – and it can be read by sporadic people who can compare their f*ck ups to mine (and maybe learn something from my frequent blunders).

About a week ago I woke up and realized it was time to either sh*t or get off the pot (and I’m sorry if my colourful language offends you, but I write as I speak!). And so I got off the pot. Since returning in April, I have argued with myself constantly about going back to the UK and trying again. (no…I have argued with myself about EVERYTHING! I am in torment!) For the first 4 months I was adamantly opposed to the idea – I found every reason as to why I should return, but found every counter-reason as to why I should not. My reasons for avoiding it were creative at the very least. But still, I kept coming back to the question: “the Leanne of today doesn’t want to go…but will the Leanne of 40 years from now regret having not taken the opportunity?” Hmmm…I know about regret. I have given up a lot of opportunities – most of which I already regret. I can’t have another regret.

And so it is so. After a weekend of trialing, and being with friends and watching successes and failures (yes, this is all dog show stuff) I realized that I needed to go. Why? How does the dog world fit in? Since returning in April, I have remained fairly aloof from everyone – friends, family, etc. I figured that by rejoining my world, I was making it too easy for me to stay in Thunder Bay, and too difficult to change my life. This past trialing weekend was really my first large scale interaction with my life. But then I realized - its not enough. I will always have a life here, but not enough of a life to warrant staying forever. I cannot stay here anymore. And so…on September 2nd, I woke up – and for the first time since April – I didn’t argue with myself. I didn’t debate my life, or what I was doing. The decision was made, and then there was clarity. The funny thing is – had I “decided” not to go, I would have continued to argue with myself for months, until that option no longer existed.

Like I have already mentioned, I will not be telling anyone of my decision. The reason? This time I am going back for me. I do not want to go with expectations, and feeling the pressure of needing to succeed. I have had five months to ponder my mistakes, I know what went wrong, and I know what I need to make this work for me. Part of what I need is my anonymity until I settle.

In retrospect, it was so incredibly lonely to move 6000 miles away from home. I have been lonely before – but this type of lonely was something else. This time I am going with the understanding that I will have to combat that. Ok, sure, in another week I will be heading towards self doubt, and wondering what the heck I’ve signed myself up for – but right now, I am ok. And so…this blog will be returning to its original format, and hopefully for a longer stint J