Thursday, 27 November 2008

Thunder Bay Stagnate

Guess where I am? HA! Ya, Starbucks. Guess what I should be doing? Yup…my thesis. I have this amazing mental block when it comes to my thesis. I see the end result, but I have trouble focussing on it. I know what needs to get done, but for some reason I look at it like a prison term. Or like the flu. You know when you are sick, and can’t leave the house? That is what my thesis makes me feel like; like I am sick and cannot leave house. It is some sort of punishment. The worst part about this punishment is that I inflicted myself with it.

I have started the inevitable job hunt. In typical fashion, I have remembered that I hate customer service. No – not customer service, per se; I hate having to deal with a**holes (Leanne has a fight or flight mentality and unfortunately fight is the usual response). When challenged by students, I tend not to care, and can slough it off. When confronted with b*tching customers (adults) it is another story. Yet, I like to work in adult worlds; unfortunately those worlds are within academia, and research – logical places, where I can deal with people in some logical fashion. In customer service the individuals who are the craziest have absolutely no logic. Or at least, no developed sense of rationalization.

When I came home I realized that I needed to remember what drove me into education. And little by little I am having those glimmers of insight. Aside from the financial and vacation incentives, there was something more that brought me into teaching. Ok, teaching still isn’t one of those long term aspirations. But here it is – I think the reason that I have trouble committing to teaching is because of the homework. University killed the desire to bring work home with me at the end of the day. And here is the thing – I push myself (believe me I do, even if the past few months haven’t been a reflection of that!). A job that should take an hour ends up taking three. I am also fearful of screwing up students. What if I teach the information wrong? What if I don’t have the answer? Yes and I realize that most teachers don’t really have the answers.

Every day, as I am confronted by the reality of being back here, I can’t wait to get back to England. I want to go back to teaching, and want to try different schools. And take a contract. Of my available career options, teaching is the best one going. And maybe that is how people arrive at their careers – they evaluate what they have open to them, and decide which option is the least of the perceived evils. Of my available options, teaching is the least of the evils.
Oh and as for the title of this blog – if you are wondering why it is still London Lost, when I’m not longer in London…I am still London Lost – and the day I change it is the day that I give up on going back. Right now, I am not giving up because when I do, I will be reaffirming my complacency.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

London Rebounding

I have been fairly lazy when it has come to posting my blog entries. While in London, I would periodically write entries ahead of time (I really had nothing to do!) which is why there are several posted today (prewritten and unposted stuff). Today’s entry is really a today entry though! I am back at Starbucks, buzzing on an assortment of caffeinated beverages, and thankful that my spell check can spell caffeinated because I can’t. To drown out the surrounding conversations, I have Duffy blaring out of my headset. No. You don’t really blare Duffy; call Duffy my newly formed English addiction. Playing Warwick Avenue, I can close my eyes, and be transported back to London; running through Victoria Station (that song was ALWAYS playing in Victoria Station). Wait. Sitting alone at Starbucks, on a Saturday night, writing blog entries and listening to Duffy? Am I still in London?!?!?!? No.

What should I be doing? Reading my thesis. Yes, I had completed part of it – 30 pages on the history of mass bison kills on the Great Plains. It is boring as h*ll. As you will read to the left - university stifles creativity, and kills the writing abilities of the average individual. My thesis is a testament to that very point. You can ignore these statements if you are one of the people who I will be *politely* asking to proofread my thesis. If in the coming months you are faced with an in-person or email request from me, asking if you would like to read what I have written, then my thesis is highly intriguing and will seek to answer those longstanding, life altering questions. You will be gripped. I will also be providing caffeinated beverages and sugary snacks to make the task seem less arduous. Promise. If you are already bored by my blog entries, I promise that my thesis will make up for it.

Oh wait…hang on…need to check the ITV website in England to see who has been voted out of X Factor…..Rachel…hmmm…

OK so I am digressing. Where I have I been this past week? In short- sleeping, moping, thinking, etc. I made the mistake of ignoring my email. Sorry – but Leanne needed to descend into her misery; sometimes it’s a trip best taken alone. This past week has been emotional – I thought that I was inconvenienced in London; I was mistaken. The temptation to return is overwhelming, and I will. Unfortunately I can’t do it tomorrow, as I would like. There is no point in going back already – I doubt there will be steady work heading into Christmas. I need to finish my thesis, and say that I at least accomplished something in this return. No – that’s not the only thing that I need to accomplish; I need to learn to let go of this place. It’s a hard reality to sit in a place that you chose to return to, and realize that you don’t belong there. And I don’t anymore – Thunder Bay has nothing to offer me. I keep arriving at that conclusion, but have difficulty in accepting it. Really my life here is no different than it was in London; it’s just less interesting; I can’t just go down the block to escape. I am still lonely here; I still seek to find ways to entertain myself; I am still contributing to Starbucks to fight my loneliness. The big difference? I have less independence here; I don’t have my anonymity. There comes a point that you realize that you need to live your life. At the expense of my sanity, I will do just that.

I can’t say its all bad being in Thunder Bay though. My familiarity is here; Mom, friends, and dogs. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all pursue? Familiarity. Unfortunately in my pursuit of familiarity I am screwing myself. Ya, I said it. I am screwing myself. I would love to live in a place with fresh air for the rest of my life. Stay in a city of 100,000 people, that poses no challenges to get around. I know where everything is. I know how things work here. And it is at the point that you realize you are stagnating and becoming highly anal. Short of becoming a professional writer (and after my thesis is completed, that will be a seriously doubtful career choice) there isn’t one career aspiration that I have that would allow me to remain here.

And what exactly are my proposed career aspirations? Ultimately – to find a job that I love. This is a difficult time to be finding a career though. You know that Credit Crunch/Crisis thingy that the media is so eager to discuss? Well it has ramifications on jobs. Unfortunately the world is sinking into unemployment. The necessary job skills and qualifications are changing – it is a cr*ppy time to be in your twenties or thirties and just starting out in life. Ten years ago, when I started university, I think there was a greater hope. Unfortunately things change over the course of a decade.

In Thunder Bay I am qualified to work in places like Old Navy, Walmart, etc. Reality has it, that I actually can’t afford to work in those places – seriously – I would have to declare bankruptcy, and I am trying my damnedest not to. I have contemplated the one-year Masters of Journalism at Western. I would love to write professionally, and pursue hard hitting stories in the Middle East. Exactly. I can’t stay in Thunder Bay to work for the Associated Press. I am presently applying to Liverpool’s Masters of Science in International Human Resource Management. Ya. INTERNATIONAL Human Resources – can’t stay here for that either. I have pondered International Aid and Development in Africa – nope…Thunder Bay isn’t an option. How about teaching? Nope, not even with teaching can I stay in Thunder Bay. What does it all mean? I am going to have to accept that I am going to be inconvenienced and that I need to let go.

Two days ago I filled out a job application for a clothing company. One of the questions in the application asked “Why do you a desire a position with *COMPANY* and what are your career aspirations?”. I know what this question means – it is the moment at which the applicant gets to kiss some *ss. The question should be answered: “I want a job with your company because I absolutely adore your clothing, and feel that I could provide a positive contribution to your team. It is my goal to stay with the company in the hopes that I excel, and continue to grow.” Leanne is past the point in her life where she wants to bullsh*t her way to a job. Here is my ego – but I just can’t make myself drip for minimum wage employment anymore. Do you really think that I am aspiring to work for minimum wage? Is that why I went to university for ten years? I will gladly take a job for minimum wage, and generally I have always worked in customer service; I’m just saying, be realistic. Needless to say I didn’t kiss *ss on that application, and I won’t get a phone call. Next week, when I’m over my ego and reacquaint myself with reality, I will scrap the degrees from my resume and brown nose my way to a job. Fall from grace. And you know what? Realization is far easier that implementation.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

London Departing to Return

Morning came far too early today – 4:30 am to be exact. In my continuing UK-inspired health woes I have the onset of a cold. This brings back memories of an ill fated trip to the Dominican. Presently I am seated in London’s Heathrow Airport waiting for my flight back to Canada. A week ago going home seemed like the promised land; today it is something that I greet with mixed emotions. I was finally finding my groove here – but would I have found it had I not booked my return? Hard to say. Booking my return allowed me to relax and live. Maybe in the future I should travel with an open-ended ticket (less commitment!! HA!) Yet the decision to go back isn’t all bad – going back is helping me to face those life issues that I have long avoided. Facing reality, it is necessary to go home to come back. Yes, I will put myself through this ordeal again, but next time I will have less uncertainty, a better plan, and possibly the knowledge that I can be independent. Now hopefully I don’t loose perspective when I get home – seriously, swift kick in the *ss if I do – volunteers, anyone??

London Tourists

Another rainy day in London. I have come to realize that I am not sure what I dread more – a Canadian winter or a UK winter. In Canada it is cold, and the wind burns your skin. A fresh coating of snow can be beautiful, but when spring comes and it starts to melt – well, it is just ugly (and muddy). In the UK, the rains and impending darkness are a bit depressing. In both countries, I end up with the wet pant legs (ha ha ha ya I know). Luckily in London I doubt I will end up with salt stains eating my clothing. Maybe I need to move south?
I think I have finally figured out the despondence of the average Londoner – it boils down to tourism. This city is overrun by tourists, and I have come to realize that in order to get anywhere you must put on a blank expression to avoid being asked for directions, asked for help, or a sundry of other questions. Also, due to the fact that tourists need to stop every five feet to take a picture, you run the risk of getting nowhere. Oh and about pictures - I am sick of tourists who need to pose in front of every bloody building possible! How many pictures do you need of yourself? Surely I would never do that (ignore the picture to the left!). I have reached the point, that like the average Londoner, I kind of stare blankly ahead of me, so that I do not feel obligated to sidestep picture-taking tourists. Oh yes, I know – I have spent plenty of time as a tourist, and understand the plight of the average tourist. But really, I am now starting to sympathize with the plight of the Londoner!

Sunday, 16 November 2008

London Lost Her Umbrella

During my time in the UK, I have always been perplexed by umbrellas. Initially I was curious as to why I never saw an umbrella, and then suddenly it would start to rain, and hundreds of umbrellas would appear as if out of nowhere. Eventually from experience, I realized that most people carry big enough bags to properly conceal them. Then I found humour in the locations that sold umbrellas. Going bra shopping? Guaranteed you will also be able to buy an umbrella. Going grocery shopping? Buy an umbrella at the checkout. Going to your local Boots? Make sure you pick up an umbrella next to the tampon display.

My umbrella, bright and colourful (not the standard British black) has now made at least two trips across the Atlantic. I am sorry to say that it will be retired when I leave London. I have come to realize that North American umbrellas are not designed to withstand British weather. This umbrella has been the source of much frustration. As soon as a light wind picks up, it flips inside out, so that it collects water rather than deflects it. Due to this problem, it is now coming unlaced from the hinges. When I am forced to pull it out of my bag, which is daily, I am embarrassed by it’s tattered state. In fact, I am at the point that when it rains, I would rather walk in the rain then have to contend with it. It has served its purpose, though only briefly. Next time I will be investing in a proper British version. Thanks for the memories my cr*ppy Canadian umbrella.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

London Lost & Maybe Found

Life is funny at times – just when you think you know what you are doing, or where you are going, everything changes. I keep trying to remind myself that I need to return to Thunder Bay in order to move on. And yet for as excited as I was at the prospect of returning home, a little voice keeps reminding me that it is really a bad decision. But I have to go, don’t I? Finish the thesis. Apply to grad school. Figure out life and finish what I started. But the true necessity is that I finish what I started in the UK, and to do that I have to finish what I started at home. I have to come back and I will. Periodically I wonder how people can claim that their lives have been changed in a week, a month or even a year. But something has changed during this experience in London. That underlying feeling that I am ready to move on with my life has finally taken seed. Does that mean that it will go according to plan when I return to Canada? Knowing me – not likely. I worry that when I am confronted by my comfort zone and convenience I will start to take steps backwards. It can’t be so – if I start to stagnate or move backwards, someone is going to have to give me a swift kick in the *ss. Things have changed, and that is good. It’s time to embrace some sort of commitment. This time I will actually miss what I am leaving, whereas last time I was so truly relieved to get out. I don’t want to leave England and go back to my mundane existence (I feel like a 4 year old "I don't wanna go!" stomp stomp stomp). If only I could have seen this a week ago. Its time, isn’t it?

Friday, 14 November 2008

Sex, German and Alcohol

Like clockwork, Friday has arrived again. Amazing how that happens, isn’t it? Could a week have already passed since my dungeon-esque experience?

As I am staying in a hostel, and I have to get up early, I do most of my “primping” in the hallway outside of the room. Careful not to disturb anyone’s beauty sleep, I spend my mornings displaced. This morning, while sitting on the stairs applying my makeup, I happened to catch an early morning show. Ok, rather I heard an early morning show. Obviously the rooms next to the bathrooms are doubles. Needless to say, I sat there, rather uncomfortable, while a woman expressed her appreciation for her boyfriend. While blow drying my hair, a man staggered out of the room, in a deep post-coital flush, looking highly surprised to see me.

He looks at me… “You realize that hair dryer is loud. I thought something was going on out here in the hall.”
I looked at him, slightly amused (obviously he did not realize that I had overheard his morning romp).
“Really? I apologize that my hair dryer is loud. I was merely trying to block out the sound of your girlfriend.”

Truthfully I didn’t end with the last bit, but I was really tempted. I was just so surprised that he was complaining to me about my hair dryer, when he and his girlfriend could have competed with an orchestra. Needless to say, later in the day when several of my students were mimicking sex noises, I immediately started to laugh. Oh, and for the record – he appears to be a Two Minute Man (if you know what I mean).

Today was another thrilling day of behaviour management. In my never ending pursuit of classes that I should never teach, I would like to add German to the list. How I ended up teaching German is beyond me – but I did. My students quickly realized that my German is limited to “do you speak German?” and swear words. I did try and read the course manual, but that really didn’t help.

“Miss, if we fail the exam, it is going to be because of this lesson and because you can’t speak German. I am complaining to my mother.”
“You go right ahead, and I will mention to your mother that you are going to fail because you are a lazy complainer, who has done absolutely nothing since arriving in class. And since I have also taught you in other classes, I will mention that you are about as useful as a third tit in your other classes, as well”

Ok, again I did not say that. But sometimes it is so tempting.

I also had the opportunity to confiscate a mobile phone. This led to drama, but such is life in an all-girls school. The girl who’s phone I confiscated gave me a fair amount of lip.

Several voices popped up throughout the room: “Miss, it is entirely inappropriate how she is talking to you.”
“Really? You should have thought about that five minutes ago when you were speaking to me in the same manner.”
You just have to love the blame game.

Two periods of German led into two periods of French. Luckily I am workable in French. We survived.

Finally, my day culminated with a Product Development class. Truthfully, by this point, I was so tired I didn’t really care. As long as there was paperwork on every desk, and the perception that work was occurring, I wasn’t going to argue.

After work, I stopped by my agency to file my pay sheet and say my good byes. And to promise that I would be back next year after my thesis is finished. After a rather large glass of wine, I also promised that I would be willing to take a long-term contract next year. Seeing that I was willing target (a drunk and willing target) they asked if I would help them do some promotional work at a career fair in my hometown. Sure?!?! Why not!??!?!?! Give me alcohol, and I’ll give you the world.

As I left the school today, I did feel a pang of sadness. I am not ready to leave England, but realize I have to. Right now, still blissfully buzzed from the wine, I am content. Packing up is such an inconvenience. Having to readjust to home life is an inconvenience. And I hate inconvenience.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

On Figuring and Finding

Since I arrived in London, I have made an almost-daily pilgrimage to a Starbucks near Victoria Station. It is at Starbucks that I generally work on my blog entries, surf the internet and indulge in my coffee addiction. It has also been at Starbucks that I have pondered by predicaments and future. In that time, I have seen the same man, who apparently does the same thing that I do. Except that he is doing formal work, and I’m just d*cking around. Tonight, after nearly 6 weeks, he finally smiled at me – one of those knowing smiles of mutual understanding. We both come here for the same reason – there are people here, and it fills the void of loneliness. If this experience has taught me anything, the lesson is centered around familiarity. Familiarity is important and comfortable. Home is familiar, and highly comfortable and an easy solution to overcome the uncertainty.

An interesting thing happened to me today. I went to Greenwich to seek out the Prime Meridian. Yes, I realize that you don’t actually “seek out” an invisible line. There is no bump on the ground, and nobody has carved a trench to indicate its existence. Due to the rain, I only ventured as far as Greenwich Park. Looking at the map, I found the point at which I perceived the line to run through, and trudged over to it. Anyone who is interested in science, geography, geology, etc is interested in these invisible lines. I’m pretty sure I got there, and yet I don’t really care if I did. At some point today, I know I crossed the mark from which time is based. Basically, when you run out of things to see in London, you see the things that are out of the way – and that is why I went to Greenwich. I have seen Big Ben and the Parliament buildings more than I wish (they were on my nightly workout circuit), and Buckingham Palace, Leicester Square, etc become a bit repetitive.

While in Greenwich I was struck by the loneliness that has been overcoming me for the past 5 weeks. Nobody to share the experience with, nobody to talk with – it becomes disheartening. I started to worry about the future, my education, money (ok, mainly debt), and relationships. How can I make everything work? How will I overcome this? Questions without answers. I keep arriving back at this thought – I do not want to leave England. Needless to say, by the time I left Greenwich I was fairly depressed, and nearly in tears (I still haven’t developed the British “Stiff Upper Lip” and doubt I ever will!). Having to cross through unfamiliar territory in London took me out of my zone of familiarity.

What is interesting about this? As soon as I arrived back at Victoria Station and in Pimlico, I was relaxed again. I was back to my familiar point. The uncertainty had disappeared, and I knew where I was. Suddenly I was back to thinking positively about the future, and remembering the necessity to live one day at a time. And that is when it hit me – I can make this work. If I could commit to actually renting a flat, get a bed of my own to sleep in, and have somewhere to unpack, I could do this. The problem is committing to commitment, and I have issues with that.

I have previously talked about the necessity of living one day at time. Unfortunately I stopped doing that – I kept returning to long-term scales of time. That makes time a cumbersome issue, and that is what eventually leads me to crack. I want all of the solutions now, not a month from now. I don’t now how I will make my education prospects work, nor do I know how I am going to repay my debt, nor do I know how I’m going to make things work in terms of relationships. But time will tell, won’t it? Nothing can be solved or undone overnight, and I keep forgetting that. What happens when I go home? I have a thesis to finish – that is my first priority. I have to apply to graduate school – the second priority. I need to rediscover what pulled me into teaching, and then take the contract that will give me my future. I need to face the reality that without teaching, I don’t have much of a future. I need to deal with the issues I have committing to life, and then deal with the feelings that keep pulling me home. Going home to an economically and employment deprived city does not solve my problems – in fact, it increases my problems tenfold. I need to overcome my necessity for comfort, and convenience and become the person I am. I need to bank money and pay down some bills.

A few days ago I spoke with a Canadian teacher who has been here for over a year. I asked her when she is returning home; she said “I’m going home at Christmas – sometimes you just need to go back for a bit.” And that is the truth – find your way here, but home is always home, and you can always go back for a visit.

What does all of this mean? I will be back. Am I crazy to try again? Probably. Some might even say I need some sort of counselling, and they would be right. But it has taken me ten years to get through university, and get it right – I will keep trying this until I get it right. Banbury left me scrambling for answers; London has left me with realization. Right now I need to go home and finish what it is I started, and answer the questions that I have had on my mind for the past several years – that is the only way I will ever be able to finish or conquer this.

Oh and as for Greenwich – really liked it. It was nice to do something moderately touristy for an afternoon. It was quiet and quaint, and I was momentarily able to forget the hustle and bustle of Central London. The park was a nice break from the over populated parks that I have wandering through for the past several weeks. Now if only they could fix that whole rain problem…

But really, the point to this – I will be back. Just be patient and so will I.

London Polite

Periodically, what strikes me about London, and maybe all British people, is their politeness. No – wait – let me rephrase. The average person isn’t outwardly polite; maybe because the average person doesn’t talk. What strikes me though is the apologetic way in which signs are written. For instance, in case of smoking:

“Due to laws, you are unable to smoke in this area. We apologize and ask that you not smoke. Sorry for the inconvenience this may cause.”

In North America this is what you would see:

“No smoking”. Period. Nothing else.

At the laundrette that I go to, a sign hangs above the washers:
“We politely ask you to refrain from consuming alcohol in the laundrette. Sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.”

A comparable North American sign would read:
“Alcohol not allowed.” Simple. End of story.

In terms of litter, London has asked that:

“You please not litter, and please put your rubbish into a properly marked bin.” Polite.

In North America the equivalent would read:

“$500 fine for littering” Not polite, and with a threat.

When it comes to construction, particularly street construction, you see carefully placed signs that ensure the safety of the average pedestrian. Case in point, directly outside of my hostel, the sidewalk (footpath) has been excavated. And I do mean excavated – what remains is a rather substantial bottomless hole. Surrounding that hole is a carefully placed barricade (which is about 3 feet tall). Next to that barricade is a sign that shows pedestrians the proper place in which to walk. This is just in case a careless, or rather stupid individual should accidently climb the four foot barricade, whereby falling into the hole, causing severe injury to themselves. With the sign, all doubt is cast aside; you know that climbing the barricade will result in pain or death. That is polite.

In North America – there would be pylons…maybe a barricade…but still potential to fall into the hole. And any idiot who misses the pylons and barricades deserves to.

So really, all I am saying is that at the heart of it all, the British are careful about inconveniencing people. Even with all of my complaints about London, I kind of like that.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Makeup & Pregnancy Tests

Today I returned from the classroom, to be greeted by a very friendly Australian, who is currently cohabitating in the same room. Exhausted from her travels throughout the UK, she quickly asked me:
“Do you like London? I don’t really like it here.”
My response: “It’s not my favourite place in the world.”
“It’s just so unfriendly!” she responded, with some relief.
I smiled knowingly. “Everyone here is just sad…”…and some days, that is what it feels like.

I spent another glorifying day in the classroom. Yes, a touch of sarcasm. I am exhausted and my feet ache. I am still not used to the idea of teaching in heals – grin and bear it, right?

My day was comprised of four periods of science and one period of English. Truthfully English should have been a breeze; it’s a subject that I actually enjoy (mainly because it doesn’t require a lot of brain power, and as long as you can muster some sort of abstract thought, it is a doable subject; plus I spend most of my time in abstract thought!). English as it turned out, was hell. What should have been a thrilling period of watching the DiCaprio-Danes version of Romeo & Juliet, turned into a classroom management nightmare. My classroom quickly transformed into a make shift beauty school – at one point I was actually gagging on the perfume. I do not know why teenage girls believe that makeup looks best when it is caked in suppressive layers, but I would like to say that the Year 10 class is singlehandedly keeping Revlon, Rimmel (etc) in business. I am actually impressed by their over-the-top beauty skills. I would fall over if I had that much weight and pressure applied directly to my face. Luckily the amount of hair product that they apply apparently keeps them upright.

Frustrated by the makeup situation I asked another teacher:
“What do you do about the makeup situation? It is beginning to irritate me.”
The teacher…a young man…looked at me just as helplessly.
“Well…ya…basically it is up to the forum tutor to make sure that it is confiscated.”
“Huh. That’s helpful.”
His answer was a knowing smile.

Science posed other challenges. I had what was described as a “difficult” class. Luckily the “difficult” class had a practical assignment. The assignment was fairly basic – take your temperature with a thermometer.

“Miss, these themometers look like pregnancy tests.”
I hadn’t actually noticed the similarity. Furthermore I am concerned that a 15 year old girl was so quick to point out the similarity.
We soon realized that there were not enough tests…thermometers to go around…

“Miss, I will go and ask Mr.HeadofDepartment for some more pregnancy tests.”
“That’s a good idea. Please refrain from calling them pregnancy tests to his face.”

Today I decided that it was time to answer one of my more perplexing questions. Many of the girls have their boyfriend’s names written on their hands…I love Johnny…Dave + Suzy forever. Even at 15 I never felt the inspiration to etch a boy’s name into my hand. So I ask:
“If I write my boyfriend’s name on my hand, does that make it official?”
Naturally, I received a bunch of blank stares.
“Miss, what do you mean?”
“Well I have noticed that most girls have their boyfriend’s names written on their hands. Is that some way of making it official? Should I do the same?”
“Oh Miss, its just silly to write your boyfriend’s name on your hand.”
I am still clueless.

I will say that there are various topics that I do not like to hear about in my class. Unfortunately working in an all-girls school comes with a certain amount of drama. As a cover teacher there are various things that I do not want to hear about. Sex and alcohol are two of those topics that I prefer to not have discussed in my presence. Though, I am shocked by the knowledge of thirteen and fourteen year old students. Please keep it out of my classroom – at 28 there are things that I don’t want to know. Periodically I feel tempted to stagger across the field that separates the girl’s school from the boy’s school – surely there can’t be as much drama in a boy’s school. I do have a theory about the makeup though – I have realized that at break the girls must go and press their faces up against the chain-link fence and ogle the boys. In order to diminish the appearance of the chainlink imprints, they are forced to reapply their makeup - repeatedly.

Finally, much to my delight, the student who I had shove me on Monday was back in my class today. I initially felt sympathy for her on Monday – felt that she had been provoked. Apparently it does not take much to provoke her. In fact, all it took was my asking her to complete her assignment. She didn’t shove me though :-p I suppose that is one feather in my cap.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

London Fart Factor

London is one of those cities that you either love or hate. I will admit – my passion for London isn’t really over the top. I like to visit the city, check out a few sights, do a bit of shopping, eat – but that’s about the only excitement that I find in London. In terms of actually living here, I am not a fan (obviously). Trying to carry on a conversation on my mobile phone is literally impossible. Amidst the traffic, blaring horns, and surrounded by hundreds of others screaming into their mobile phones, doesn’t exactly help relay a conversation. Actually, that is even if you can hear your mobile phone ring. It drives me crazy that every person has their mobile set to the highest ring volume – but the reality is, in order for it to be heard above the constant noise, it is necessary. I still do not have the finely tuned hearing to actually hear my phone ring in London. I generally miss calls. Which in some ways is alright, because I am not someone who enjoys being glued to my phone. In my ideal world, mobile phones would cease to exist. Nothing irritates me more than the ring of a mobile during a quiet dinner in a restaurant. Shut it off! You don’t need to be connected all the time (unless it is life or death, then I will make an excuse).

I would like to call the noise in London the “fart factor”. Yes, you read that correctly. In the majority of cities you would never dare to publicly fart – it is rude. People would hear. You just don’t do it. I have come to realize that here in London, you can fart without ever being heard. And if you move quickly enough, you can never be pointed out as the guilty party. When you have hundreds of people surrounding you at any given time, it is impossible to determine who farted. Have I tested this theory? You bet. I’m Leanne, and that’s what I do. Find small things to amuse myself. So – to reiterate – the noise in London is so great, that it is possible to publically fart without being heard. That should be printed in a pamphlet to promote the city. Can’t you imagine the crowd that it would draw??

Monday, 10 November 2008

When you come full circle...

I have just finished another day in the classroom – albeit completely exhausted! I moved into the hostel yesterday, and though I did have the potential for a decent night’s sleep, stress kept me up for most of the night. The last 72 hours have been highly tumultuous, thanks to 2 moves, two nights in a dungeon, and facing the prospect of living in the armpit of five other girls in a 6-bed dorm. I must say I was highly displeased to find that the “secure” baggage room at the hostel, had been emptied of all bags, which were then left haphazardly in the hall. So much for security…and so much for storing a bag.

In the past couple of days I have come to the realization that I need to figure out what to do with my life. It is a catch-22. Let me start by saying that I do not want to leave England. I want to stay. Unfortunately, the underlying reality that I do not want to teach, is a continuing issue that I must face. As such, I have begun the process of returning to Canada. What does this mean exactly? Does this mean that I won’t return to the UK? No. Not at all. I have realized that under the right circumstances, and in the correct profession, I could be happy here. Unfortunately there are too many variables that are contributing to my misery.

In the process of deciding what to do, I have finally contacted my thesis advisor. Yes, it is time. I need to clear those two classes that have been weighing heavily on my mind for the past three (yes, 3) years. Why haven’t I finished them? I took a detour into education! Do I regret that? Not so much. In the long run, I am sure that having an Ed. degree will be somehow beneficial to my future pursuits. Whether it be in handling individuals, dealing with stressful situations, I figure there must me some sort of benefit to the degree. Financially, yes I do regret the degree; but again, maybe in the future it will pay off.

Part of what has spurred this on, is my discovery of the online-Masters-degree option. The University of Liverpool offers two online degrees in Business. The real benefit is that a student can take up to six years to complete the course. This is a good option. Again though, I must complete my undergraduate thesis in order to pursue this sort of an option. Why business? There are jobs in business. I need to be in an adult driven world. I realize that teachers are fulfilled by the idea of inspiring students – and there was a time that I was too. Unfortunately I have lost the desire. Maybe too much time has been spent listening to teachers who speak negatively of the profession. Or maybe my years of working in schools has shown me another side to the profession – the side that I do not wish to indulge in. Does this mean that I will never teach again? No. It means that right now, it isn’t for me.

Today I taught five periods of science. I can say that I was completely lost in one of them – upper level chemistry. I have not taken a chemistry class in 12 or so years and it definitely wasn’t one of my strong subjects. Luckily the other four periods were in biology related subjects – I understood them. Today a student shoved me, much to the excitement of the class (not happy excitement, but it involved drama so they were keen). This led to the great concern among several teachers and heads of department – oh – and paperwork. And apologies. And concern from a supervisor who was worried that I was hurt or would quit the profession on the spot (ironic, isn’t it?). I do not believe that the student intended to shove me, or at least that is what I reported. I did not freak out, or get angry – I was more concerned about the student who took the action. I put on a stern appearance for the sake of the other students (I can’t be perceived as being indifferent to the situation) but truthfully, I just wasn’t overly bothered. Obviously I can’t go into great detail, but such is life.

Aside from this drama, I spent another day responding to Canada questions:

“Miss, what is Canada like?”
“Miss, what is school in Canada like?”
“Miss, do we sound strange to you?”
And then the personal questions…

“Miss, do you like England?”
“I do” and that isn’t a lie.

“Miss, are you a teacher?”
A little confused about this one…I was teaching the class, after all.

“Miss, did you go to school to become a teacher?”
“Nope. Never stepped foot in a school before today.”

“Miss, how long did you go to school for?”
“Let’s not go there.”

“Miss, do you have tattoos?”
“Yes you do. You have one.”
“I don’t have one.” Officially I have two, so I wasn’t lying.

My favourite conversation; between three girls:
“So this guy is working at KFC. What a joke. I mean it is fine if you own the KFC, but to work there? That is so pathetic.”
“I know! You can’t live like that!”
Leanne: “Ok listen, keep in mind that I have 3 university degrees and back home, all I was qualified to do was work in a KFC or MacDonald’s. It happens.”
*three girls look at me shocked
“Miss has three degrees and could only work in KFC where she lived!”
“Miss! We didn’t mean to offend you.”
Leanne: “Life doesn’t always happen the way we like it to.”
**truthfully, the job situation in Thunder Bay is often so bad, that I’m not even sure I could get a job at KFC.

Prior to coming to the UK, I would argue with a friend regarding soccer-football. I refused to call it football until I was officially in the UK. It was a little part of my Canadian identity. In August I had pink streaks put through my hair as my last hurrah before “taking a grown up job” – in October I had my hair coloured to reflect “being grown up”. Last week I gave up the last part of my personal identity when I finally removed 3 sets of earrings from my ears. I couldn’t hide them any longer, and being that I was in a school with a fairly strict dress code, I knew it was time. What is the importance of this? Maybe it boils down to the fact that everyday Leanne gives up a bit of Leanne, whether it be in a physical or emotional sense. No matter what happens this week or next, I know things have changed, and I know I have to look towards the future. If and when I go home, now or in December, I know I need to get off the pot and commit to something.

In reality it does kill me to leave England. If I could live and work in something other than teaching, I think I would stay. If I could head to a place in England and know that I could make enough money to survive, I would. Right now though, I finally understand what it is that I have to do. And maybe that makes this experience ok.

Saturday, 8 November 2008


I generally don’t do two blogs in one day. Tonight I need to. I keep wondering to myself – what is wrong with me? Why can’t I make this work? It has only been a month, and I am so miserable. I want so desperately to come home. I had started to feel better about a week ago, and then a couple of days ago I just crashed. I can’t hold it together – there is nothing in this world that would make me want to stay. I look towards tomorrow, and realize that living in a hostel will be difficult, and given that I am already struggling, I may be biting off more than I can chew. I’ve been away from home for much longer periods. So why doesn’t this work? The answer I keep coming back to…the one that stands out above all others - I really feel that I am in the wrong profession. I want to make this work, but I’m not sure it is feasible. Earlier this evening, I made the mistake of checking my calendar, to see how long I actually have to continue to endure this. Seeing it in black and white, with the weeks looming in front of me – I nearly broke down on the spot. Tonight I looked into taking a flight back home on Wednesday, but alas, it is far too expensive. I can’t afford to run away from London on a weekly basis – I would love to; it has been almost two weeks since I was in Leeds and I am going out of my mind staying here. I don’t know how much longer I can endure being this stressed out and sad. What do I do?

London on London

I have been in London a month and a day. Today I found myself wondering, if I left would I miss it? Yes and no. Sometimes I find myself actually enjoying the life here – lots of people and activity. Most of the time, I struggle to find my silver lining. When it is dark by 4:30, when it is raining (which it has been doing for most of the last week), when I am continually getting get cut off by despondent Londoners…well the list could go on…then I don’t know that I would miss it. Actually I spend a great deal of time despising it. Today I was tempted to look through the job postings back home. Here’s a troubling thought: I am qualified for basically nothing, and will be making next to nothing.

The trouble is, I still have no aspirations to take a full time teaching contract, nor do I want the hassle of renting a flat, paying council tax, utilities, signing leases, etc. I have no desire to lock myself in here. Why? Because locking myself in is a scary thought – once I am locked in, I can’t just go home. Right now, my safety is knowing that if it gets too difficult, I can leave. I have spoken with many individuals who are transplant-Londoners. In fact, it seems that most people living in London are transplanted. It doesn’t matter how long they have been here, they all have the same complaints and misery. I still can’t get over the look of sadness that most Londoners possess. I do not want that to be me. London is not a long term aspiration for me.

My realization, is that next week will either make me or break me. Once I move into a hostel, and am forced to deal with 18 year olds who are in London to party every night, and other individuals who think it is ok to go to bed at 2am and wake up at noon – well, that will be the real test. Part of me is relieved to be around other people. Part of me is worried to be the person who has to get up at 6am daily, whereby disrupting the other people in my room. But I have a plan.

I have decided to stop applying makeup in the morning (it will shave time off my morning, as well as recover my skin). I hate wearing makeup anyways. By the end of the day I feel like a I am wearing a plaster mask. Also I have decided to stop straightening my hair on days I have to work. Not that it takes me long, but I am going to blow dry it (5 minutes) and wear it partly up. Again, I don’t really like straightening my hair, and given that my hair is breaking off, I figure I will live with bad hair until Christmas. I will be the teacher who doesn’t care about her appearance. No, not true – I will still dress nicely. I have taken to wearing heals all day; I will continue that painful sojourn while giving up my beautification regime.

As I have previously mentioned, my return home date is December 22. Initially I had considered changing my date until March or April, but given my misery I will go home at Christmas for some recovery and think-time. This is kind of a double edged sword though. Knowing that I am going in 5 weeks makes every day a little harder, because I am so lost in my misery that I can’t wait to leave. Christmas seems so close, yet so far. In some ways it is sort of impeding me from actually settling here. The only upside is knowing that there is an end in sight. But again – knowing that there is an end, only makes each day longer. As I have said before, if I were in a city I loved, in a profession I disliked then it might be doable. If I had a profession I loved, in a city I hated, then it would be doable. Right now, I am so uncertain about teaching, and miserable in London…

In the New Year, it is highly unlikely that I will return to London. I need to find a place that works for me. This is not it. Banbury definitely wasn’t it. So far I have been impressed with the north – is it doable? Maybe after I find a secure agency. Maybe after I spend some more time in the communities up there. Maybe…maybe…maybe. Between the I-don’t-knows and the “maybes” it just never ends. What I would like, is to get through a day where I don’t feel as though I am being suffocated, and where my heart doesn’t thump with anxiety…just one day where I don’t have tears in my eyes or spend part of the day with a stress-related headache, worrying about money, or fearful over the future. Just one day.

Friday, 7 November 2008

London Transition

I am peeved. Normally I would be excited that it was Friday; yesterday at this time I thought it was the greatest realization in the world – I had made it through the week. Today – not so much. After a particularly rough day in the classroom, I am ticked off.
Last night at 10pm, I was informed that I needed to move out of my hotel this morning. I had previously informed the hotel that I would be staying until Sunday (at which point I am moving into a hostel). Due to an apparent break down in communication, the hotel interpreted that to mean that they could give away my room beginning on Friday. After a mad dash to pack up, and a rather sleeplessness night, I am not a happy camper. Realizing there mistake they are putting me up in a room across the road. Still not particularly happy, because I now have to move twice this weekend! Regardless, I agreed to the move.
So today, at the end of my day, I was looking forward to grabbing my bags and moving. Lo and behold, the room across the road is not yet ready. I am tired, and have had one of those days that makes me question whether I really want to continue teaching. I want to move now. Grrr….some days I feel like for every one step forward, I end up taking ten steps back. Going home is looking more and more tempting…

Thursday, 6 November 2008

London on a Thursday

Oh thank goodness, Friday is in sight. I realize the whole goal about living one day at a time, but Thursday hits, and I’m more than willing to see things on a two-day scale. Last night I actually got some sleep – amidst the fireworks. Actually, by the time 9:30 rolled around, I was absolutely exhausted. The only downfall to getting sleep? Probably won’t sleep tonight . Not really the most positive outlook, but that is reality.

Today saw me back at Carshalton. It was a rough day – I had the same group of girls for two periods, and they were….challenging…Follow this with a double period of cooking, and it was a long day. Here is my day in a nutshell:

I don’t usually talk about registration. Today I will, as it was particularly bad. There was an assembly that we were ten minutes late for. And why were we late? I couldn’t get the girls to settle.
“But Miss, we are late. There is no point in going now.”
“Oh we are going to assembly.”
“But Miss, we are late.”
“And you can explain to the Head why you are late.” (that’s called, being a b*tch).
*this was followed by disgruntled sighs and angry glares – which was fine; anyone who p*sses me off first thing in the morning, generally needs to watch out.

Child Birth & Safety
We will call this “Period of Hell Part One”. Every class has these students – unfortunately there were girls in this class who, if tempted, could potentially beat me up. I’m sure they wouldn’t – but I wasn’t taking my chances.

“Oh my goodness! Look at the picture on page 57! Ouch!!”
“The baby comes out of there…oh my god!”
Leanne: “Oh yeah….its fairly common for the baby to rip you open. You get stitches afterwards, then it is all good.” (don’t say I don’t preach contraception!)
“My mom told me that when I was born that I ripped her open to her bum hole.”
Great. They can traumatize me more than I can traumatize them.

And some examples of forethought:

“I plan on planning my pregnancies. I will be pregnant in the summer and the baby will arrive in November.”

“I only plan on being pregnant a couple of times.”

will be the father of my children” (*does he know that?)

Child Birth & Safety Two
I had a group of girls who wanted to discuss my preferences in music, my prediction for the winner of X Factor and hair breakage. Somewhere in there was child birth and safety. I liked this though:

“Miss, were you happy with Obama winning?”
“Yes, I suppose I was” (might as well be honest)
“I think that the UK and USA should form one government so that we can all get along better.”
“Hmm…I think the US already kicked out the UK. They might not like joining the UK again.”
“No Miss! Really?!?!?!”
“Pretty sure.”
“Well the US is too patriotic anyway.”
This led to a discussion of the war in Iraq. This is a topic that I really don’t want to discuss with students, due to my strong opinions. Naturally, we then ended up discussing Canada.

“You do realize that Canada is still technically apart of the UK?”
“Really, Miss??!?!? You have the same Queen?”
“Last I checked.”
“Do you pledge allegiance to her?”
“Never personally, but they do in Parliament.”
“Is it true that Canadians like the Queen more than Brits do?”
*I couldn’t answer this.

Home Economics – double period.
Leanne shouldn’t cook. Ever.
Leanne shouldn’t teach others to cook. Ever.

Child Birth & Safety (Period of Hell Part Two)
There were problems. I had to fill out paperwork. Fill in the blanks.

And now it’s back to Starbucks to recuperate. Again…thank goodness tomorrow is Friday.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

London...remember remember...

What a day, what a day. It started at midnight, which technically means that yesterday never ended. And really, it didn’t. Due to the thin walls in my hotel, the rather LOUD couple in the room next to me, kept me up for hours (Talking – get your mind out of the gutter!). I tried knocking on the wall to shut them up – they didn’t get the message. I had my redemption though – I went out of my way to be noisy at 6am when my alarm went off. I’m not usually that much of a wench, but today, I felt I deserved it.

I was back teaching in Carshalton – can I say that I dreaded it? Between the exhaustion and never ending financial stress I’m presently under, teaching is the furthest thing from my mind. It was so tempting to climb back into bed and forget today. I didn’t though.

My day was supposed to begin by teaching textiles. The supervisor quickly realized that having someone who couldn’t sew, teach textiles, would likely not be a good idea. Truthfully I didn’t even know what textile class would entail. So…I was switched to history. History I understand. Given the monumental political outcome of yesterday’s election, I was also able to discuss history in the making. Here is my day:

History - Periods One & Two: The Roman Empire & British History:

“Miss, miss…is Barack Obama the same person as Obama?”
I was a bit confused because the room was decorated with posters supporting Obama.

“Miss, why did the Americans put their election at the same time as a holiday that is so important to the UK?”
“What do you mean? It’s Wednesday?”
“Remember, remember the fifth of November.”
“Its Bonfire Day.”
“That can’t be good.” (all I could picture was the school alit with fire)
“It celebrates this time, when a guy decided to blow up the Parliament buildings. Tonight there will be a ton of fireworks and bonfires.”
“He tried to blow up Parliament? And you celebrate this?”
*mental note: explains a great deal to me about the Brits.

“Miss, the Romans went to war with the Italians and killed them.”

“The similarity between early Britain and present day Britain is cheese. They had cheese then, and they have cheese now.”
“Good to know.”

Technology – Double Period
This was the equivalent of a Canadian shop class; Home Ec. & Shop are not my subjects by any stretch. Luckily the students had some pre-assigned work, but were more concerned about my accent.

“Miss, what do you call this?” – points to a garbage can
“A bin.”
*student looks disappointed; ok I will humour her…
“A garbage can.”
*student looks more satisfied

“Miss what do you call a jumper?”
“Miss, what do you call a rubber?”
“Miss what do you call a coloured pencil?”
“Miss what do you call a ruler?”
*Another student interjects, much to my relief:
“Stop it, she can speak English.”

“Miss, I heard that Canadian girls like British boys because of their accents. Is it true?”
“I don’t really know.”
“But do you like British boys because of their accents?”
I just walked away from this one. For the record, I have preference for Irish accents.

“Miss, do you know Ms. Smith? She lives in Canada.”
“Talked to her yesterday”

“Miss my aunt lives in Canada. Do you know her?”
“Ya, we had dinner right before I left for England.”

Childbirth & Child Safety
Here we go again…Leanne in childbirth and child safety class. Luckily there was a previously assigned project. Not that the students were interested in doing the project. Truthfully I understand – I always preferred to do my schoolwork at home, and spend class pursuing conversation. Maybe this makes me a moderately bad teacher.

So at the end of the day I have staggered back to my local Starbucks, unsure what tomorrow will bring. For the record – Starbucks is officially celebrating Christmas.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

London Financial

Money is one of those things that can singlehandedly cause you stress and keep you up through the night. Right now money is one of my biggest concerns. In not receiving a great deal of work from my agency, money is increasingly an issue. London is expensive – overwhelmingly so. I try to keep my costs minimal, but there is a certain amount of inevitable investment that comes with living here. Sometimes unexpected costs are accrued. Prior to my leaving Canada it had not been my intention to have to buy a new laptop – unfortunately a week before my departure, the writing was on the wall – my Acer was not coping well. In terms of my possessions, my laptop is one of my most important – it is my vital link to the outside. In the long run, it has saved me a ton of money in phone expenses (thank goodness for Skype!). If I called home on my mobile, or had my Mom and friends call me, the phone bills would likely be up in the hundreds of dollars by now. After a couple of months, I can safely say that the cost of my laptop will be written off by the savings of using Skype (don’t you love my logic?). I can justify spending the money on the laptop, because I have a personal need to be connected to society through it.

Other expenditures I have incurred in moving to the UK included the cost of a partially new wardrobe. While loosing weight has definite long-term health benefits, the downside side is oversized clothes. Not that I mind shopping for a new wardrobe – it is fun to change appearances. Unfortunately it is expensive. Especially when you consider the cost of professional clothes. I have opted for a fairly monochromatic wardrobe; my professional clothes are blacks and shades of grey. My “normal clothes” are jeans, casual sweaters, etc. I must admit, I have had a bit of fun shopping in London. The last time I was in England for any length of time I couldn’t shop in conventional stores – now I can. I have become a huge fan of Next (which isn’t that bad in terms of cost; a more expensive Europeanized version of Old Navy), Dorothy Perkins, and H&M. Luckily Top Shop is always overrun with people, so I stay out of it. Like the laptop, I incurred the unexpected expense of having to purchase a jacket; which of course had to be somewhat professional. Jackets are never cheap are they? Can I justify it?? Ya – I was cold. On Sunday I bought a skirt…why? Because I realized that I had brought a bunch of brown tops with me (for work) but had failed to pack any matching bottoms. I am sure it had been my plan to find brown trousers, but between work and life I never got around to shopping in Canada.
Then there are those inevitable expenses. My mobile phone, which thanks to Skype, isn’t costing me a fortune. Actually, I am through Virgin Mobile, so I do receive a certain number of rewards (including free weekend texts – not that I really text anyone!). Oh yes...and my internet connection.

I have internet through My 3. I love it – it is a simple USB stick that plugs into the side of my computer. For $30.00 (not pounds) a month, I can have internet anywhere in the UK. Yesterday I was sitting on the train to Carshalton, and was able to plug in and check my email. Convenient (and Leanne loves her convenience). Like I said, I need to be connected. I need Skype. I can justify my internet cost. The only downside is that I have a certain usage allowance – so I can’t do a lot of uploading or downloading, That’s alright though – who needs all of that clutter?

The other expenses?? Food. I keep my food costs relatively low; just eat a lot of sandwiches, though I do miss vegetables, and meat. Coffee. I need my coffee. Transportation. I can justify my transportation costs though – I am spending about $90/wk on transit – in Canada I would be putting about $150/wk into my gas tank. It balances.

The roughest cost incurred has been the hotel. I had not intended in living in a hotel for a full month. Staying at the Pimlico Inn has been interesting, problematic and periodically almost comfortable. It is probably the least expensive place that I can stay in terms of hotels, especially in this area. Unfortunately it is bleeding me badly. I am still unwilling to rent a flat, mainly because I still refuse to sign a contract, or commit to any long length of time. My future is far too uncertain to commit to a flat; but staying indefinitely in a hotel is absolutely impossible. On Sunday I will be moving – into a six bed dorm room in a hostel; all so that I can maintain the convenience of being located next to Victoria Station (and maybe guarantee myself an additional half an hour of sleep a night).

I am not a novice when it comes to hostels; I have spent a fair bit of time staying for short durations. Long term is another thing altogether! I have fair amount of anxiety about this decision. Part of me is excited to have other people around on a regular basis. Part of me is nervous because of the early hour at which I have to begin my day (I hating having to be “that” person in the hostel!). Then there is the safety issue – always having to watch over my “stuff”; the luggage issue – some of my “stuff” will be going into storage at the hostel. Now for the cost benefit – I will be saving almost 200 pounds (yes, pounds) a week. Maybe that knowledge will cure some of my pain. There is a definite difference between staying in a hostel and living in a hostel. Only time will tell, right?

Now for that other cost thing – whether to stay or go. I have decided to go back to Canada on December 22 – but not indefinitely. I will go home for the duration of Christmas break, and into January. I have come to realize that living in London, over Christmas, and then into January when supply work is patchy, is going to launch me back into money-induced panic. It will be cheaper for me to go home for a few weeks, then to continue to live here. And maybe I’ll be able to get some sleep.

Last week I was asked if my debt keeps me up at night, or if I worry about it. Like you wouldn’t believe! The reality is, if I didn’t have credit cards, I couldn’t live right now. I wouldn’t be able to eat or live or anything else. Isn’t that a horrible means to an end?? Being in school, and having a continuous line of thankless jobs, hasn’t exactly provided me with the most stable financial outcome. So in order to live, I have to continue to go into debt. One day it has to turn around, doesn’t it?

Monday, 3 November 2008

London Absolutely Exhausted

I would like to say that I successfully saw every hour last night.…I did have a brief moment of sleep between 12:15 and about 12:45, during which I recall having a rather in depth conversation with a friend back home. Yes, the conversation was an illusion, and was quite odd (if I recall correctly, it was a full conversation regarding Jeremy Shockey of the New Orleans Saints). I did momentarily fall asleep again – except that the hotel was LOUD last night. As soon as I started to doze off there would be a crash, a siren, or any other sundry of things that kept me up. Sleep was just not happening for me. It’s time to move.

I officially began my day at 5:30am – wasn’t sure what time registration was, and wanted to make sure that I made my train. After a brief, groggy sojourn to Surrey, I arrived at the school. I waited. And waited. And waited some more. Apparently I had beat most the of the staff by about an hour. I told one of the teachers what time I had arrived at – she started to laugh…
“Why did you arrive so early???”
“My agency didn’t tell me what time school started.”
More laughter.
“So would I be safe to assume that I can take a later train in the future???”
More laughter.
“Ummm…ya. And get a coffee when you get here.”

In actuality, taking a later train only guarantees me about an addition half hour to forty-five minutes of sleep, but it’s a start right? Oh wait…and that is only if I can actually get to sleep.

So that was the prologue. My initial assignment required me to teach health; truthfully I taught a little bit of everything. Here is a synopsis of my day:

Periods 1 & 2: Pregnancy & Child Safety --> probably not subjects that are my ideal. Luckily I have taken enough Sex. Ed to adequately get me through conception and birthing. I can say vagina in the classroom without blushing. I can talk about HIV and herpes without faltering. Here is a sample of my conversations:

“Why do you think it is important for a woman to have a blood test for HIV?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well do you think it is possible to give HIV to a fetus?”
“No. A baby can’t get an STD.”
“Don’t ever have sex. Ever.”

“Can you think of any other STDs that can be passed to a fetus?”
“No. They can’t be passed.”
“What about herpes? Chlymydia?”
“Nope. They can’t be passed.”
“What about when then baby rips through the birth canal?”
“Huh. Don’t have children.”

Student to Leanne:
“Did you see that documentary where the baby comes through the birth canal and rips the woman open from here (*picture a rather inappropriate drawing*) to here?”
“No….but using contraception would have prevented that.”

Period 3: Home Economics (AKA Cooking)-->In terms of subjects I should not teach, I would like to add Home Ec. to my list.
“Miss, miss…does this look normal?” (keep in mind, I had just come from childbirth).
“Umm…that depends…what is it supposed to be?”
“An apple pie.”
“huh…then no.”

“Miss, miss…I’m baking a fruit pie. Do I have to cook the fruit first?”
“Cook the fruit?”
“Ya…I don’t know how to cook fruit.”
“Me neither. Don’t cook it, throw it in the shell and see what happens.”

“Miss! My dough is dry.”
“Yes it is.”
“What do I do?”
“Ask someone else.”

Period 4: Phys. Ed. --> Initially I was supposed to teach dance. I got away with having the students write journal entries. Crisis averted.

Period 5: French à Je suis Canadienne. Je parle Francais tres mauvais. Luckily I could get through Grade 10 French. When in doubt, I consulted a dictionary. I hope I never end up teaching German.

By the end of the day I was fully exhausted, and hungry enough that I could eat anything in sight. Luckily I don’t have the money to eat what I want! Coming out of the school I seriously doubted my want to continue, and doubted whether or not I could do this on a daily basis. Now, after a Starbucks coffee, I think I could at least go a second day. Luckily I won’t know until Wednesday. Leanne needs sleep and more perspective. Or at least a stiff drink.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

London Weathered

London is dark and dreary, and it is only noon. A soft rain is falling – not enough to get anything actually wet, but enough to make you despise being outside. Such is life in the capital. Last week we changed our clocks back, which for me was somewhat of an ordeal. I had made the mistake of booking a coach ticket before I realized that the clocks would be changing. On Sunday I woke up in a panic, unsure as to what time it was. Unfortunately the individuals who run the hotel that I stay (err…live) in, speak relatively little English. This lead to more panic, as I worried that I might miss my coach. What is my point here? Really I don’t have one.
Actually, wait…yes I do…I dislike that it is pitch black by 5pm. It is only November 1 – what will it be like by December 21??? EEKS!! Dark by 3 pm and raining? No wonder people complain about depression in London!! At least it might be moderately light at 5:30 am when I joyfully start my day. I came to England trying to escape the Canadian winter; I think I’m now dreading the English winter.
Truthfully I am freezing here. In my typical Canadian cold-weather arrogance, I decided that I could leave my warmest clothes back in Canada. Why? Because Canadians know cold weather. Nothing can touch a Northern Ontario winter (except maybe an Arctic winter). We have snow by Halloween. We are tough, weathered, and can take the elements (unless the elements are really hot, then we melt). Ya. Leanne miscalculated, and was likewise shocked to see snow in the countryside surrounding London (before Halloween). Actually – I first saw the snow somewhere outside of Milton Keynes, and spent the next hour convincing myself that it was snow – and it lasted right up to London. Apparently the smog in London may create some sort of impenetrable barrier through which snow cannot fall. I hope.
The benefit of today’s terrible weather is that I was going to go to the Portobello Road Market. This would have just been disastrous. Firstly – I dislike the huge crowds of the market. I feel like a cow being moved by an over zealous farmer with an electrified prod. Just jump in, and let the crowd move you. Secondly though, and more disastrous, is that I like to shop. Being unwilling to walk in the rain, actually saves me a bunch of money. Not that I can’t find other places to shop – but I’m generally lazy about having to find these places. Hopefully later it will clear up, and I’ll be able to walk some more of the city. Or buy a new Oyster Card. Or find somewhere new to live. Or see if Tottenham can beat Liverpool (wouldn’t that be an upset!). Welcome to the limitless possibilities of life in London.