Archive for May, 2009

Homeward Bound?

It’s getting towards the end of my tourist visa and though I have a recruiter looking for work, I don’t know whether I’ll actually find any before “D Day”. So I’ve been making plans to go back to the States for a short time. NYC and Florida are on my itinerary but for how long at each is uncertain.

I had hoped to work in NYC at my old job(s) to recoup some moolah but it appears that the economy has torpedoed that option and with rent there so high and plane tickets so costly I don’t think I can afford even a visit without knowing whether or not I have a job waiting for me in London when I return. So it seems I will be spending time in Lovely Florida, being a loafing oaf and sponging off my mom. Doing this at 31 is a little disheartening but the fact that it’s possible cuts panicking right out so I’m glad for the option. I will return to London with a glorious tan and probably not much money. Ooh, that’s right, I need to apply to defer my student loans. *shudder* I thought I’d be making money by now.

London has been interesting and I’m glad that my plans to stay here seem to be moving forward but it will be nice to see people I’ve known my whole life and to be surrounded by the American accent again though it will be a Florida accent. (A few years ago I discovered that I am apparently an anomaly, for when I visited Florida everyone suddenly seemed to have a Southern accent except me!) I look forward to finally getting back to work and beginning to move in a new-old direction; it seemed as if I’d never be a social worker again having left the field almost 7 years ago but it’s good to know my college degree (which I’m still paying on *sigh*) is still good for something.

So yes, I’m homeward bound, but not yet for good.

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Him: “The coffee’s weak.”
Me: “No, it’s just not espresso.”
Him: “Or maybe it’s not good coffee?”

Well, I did get it at the grocery store for less than £3.50. I just bought a Bodum coffee press for £20 and am not sure I’m happy about how it makes coffee compared to the stove top cafetiere. £20 for glass and plastic! Ok, and metal.

Today we go to Herne Hill Velodrome. The boyfriend thinks he might race, I think he’s crazy for thinking about racing before he’s ever even seen a track before. But hey, that’s just me. I like to be prepared for things. I don’t have a track bike so can’t even be tempted to race, though I am interested to see what happens; I’ve heard it’s 20 laps and people often don’t finish the whole race. While I’m no pootler, I’m not super fast either so I suspect I’ll just watch the ladies’ races, don’t know if I’ll ever try to race.

London is NOT EASY TO NAVIGATE IN so we’re going to end up having to ride at least an hour to get there, winding through ridiculous paths, going way out of our way. Guess I’ll get used to it someday!

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I took the boyfriend to see Comet Gain, The Bats and Crystal Stilts tonight, meeting O & K at the NE corner of St. James Park first to chitty chat and sip a beer (in public!) across the street. Around 8 p.m. we went in, did the paying thing, amused ourselves with postcards and then meandered back. The venue is mid-sized and I must say it produced some of the best sound of any venue I’ve been to in recent times, but I get ahead of myself.

Comet Gain, who could garner a win for Most Unlikely-Looking Band Members, opened their set tonight with a few awkward tunes and some awkward banter. Then 3, maybe 4 songs in, the band suddenly exploded, tightening up and producing amazing sound. I couldn’t figure out whether the band had gotten it together or the sound guys had gotten it together, or what. O & K both concurred that a pretty drastic change had occurred. I almost forgot, at the end of the last song, the guitarist went off into this sort of guitar rant and the rhythm guitarist and bassist were sort of staring at him, then everyone was looking at him, sort of laughing, then the rhythm guitarist took off his guitar, stood there a bit, then went off stage! I was like, “Whoa, guess someone’s done playing!” They had played a really long set for the opening band, 7 songs. Good thing we all had fun rocking out to them.

The Bats, from AustraliaNZ (I was right!), were a great band (“Hey, they’re all old farts!” exclaimed the Old Fart AKA the boyfriend), they got us all rockin’, some a little more than others, with tunes described by O as “like a great band from the 80s, people don’t play that kind of music any more. They’re twangy and boppy and good”, or thereabouts.

Crystal Stilts underwhelmed 3 out of the 4 of us, with a dicky attitude from the lead singer (as well as kind of crap singing) and by just being slightly less tight than the opening two bands. I don’t know if I’d see them again. And usually I think it’s impossible for the drummer to look cool but this chick had class. It was the keyboardist who took over the epileptic slave-to-the-beat duties, but he was a sweet kid, doing all the talking when things broke down between songs, enjoying being heckled, smoothing over the Prima Donna’s attitude with the sound guys. Strangely enough, the boyfriend had worked at the same record store, the now defunct Rocks In Your Head, as three of the band members.

I realized I’d misspelled “awkward”, noticed it had awk at the front, and thought about auks and whether or not they are extinct. Turns out they are not. Only the great auk is. Apparently there is such a thing as a parakeet auklet and boy, do they have wicked strange eyes!

O wants to keep looking for shows to see, I’m all for it. Up until Crystal Stilts this had been the most all-around satisfying concert experience in some time for me, so I’m looking forward to matching or beating it. I think there will be lots of chances this summer.

Tomorrow: nothing buying coffee. Sunday: Herne Hill velodrome where I’ll pick up a 20t cog being lent for the week. The boyfriend might race, there might be a bike jumble. I could handle that. Monday: WeLo Polo BBQ? It’s a bank holiday so the hordes will be out and we may not be able to get a court for polo. We’ll still try.

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Sorry for the doom and gloom of the last post, things are looking up now. I finally asked my groupito bicicleta if anyone on board was in social work. Someone mailed me, said, “Ask this dude,” I asked that dude, and I now have a recruiter looking for work for me! He’ll help me get a work visa! He may even be able to negotiate a better salary than I could receive on my own, potentially with a hiring package! I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself, just the fact that someone else feels confident I can retain employment makes me feel better.

In other news, I’ve ridden 15-17 miles in one shot twice in the past week. It feels good to know I can do that, no problem. This time my legs didn’t even bother me.

I made this fresh pea salad with the minor tweak that I had to use ripped up sugar snap pea pods because I couldn’t find any regular peas. I broke them when I discovered that shelling peas does not make for a “quick” recipe (the section this one is filed under). It should have been spicier; it calls for serrano peppers but I couldn’t find any and didn’t know the spice level of the ones I got. Should have tested it but couldn’t be arsed. Other than that, I recommend it but look for real peas and see if you can find them pre-shelled. Yeah, yeah, yuppie.

And now that I’ve found out where to buy coconut oil I can make healthy cookies from 101cookbooks.com. I love this lady’s recipes, though they are a bit like Martha Stewart’s, they often have either local or difficult-to-find ingredients, which isn’t very useful if you’re not from San Francisco.

Not much going on, otherwise, being jobless is wicked boring.

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Immigration stuff is scary. Brick wall after brick wall. Haven’t been turned down for anything yet but that’s b/c I haven’t applied for anything. Keep making phone calls, that’s all I can do. My tourist visa is up in August, well before I’ll know what’s happening with my registration at the General Social Care Council, so I’ll have to go back to the States. I’ll need to find a place to stay for several weeks and will have to try to pick up as many shifts as possible. Ideally I’ll find some sort of house sitting gig. That would be perfect.

Anyway, today’s not a great day in terms of mood. And it’s been insanely windy for two weeks straight.

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Can you believe it’s raining again? Oh wait, no, the sky is a beautiful blue. Wait, no, it’s cloudy again. Were it not a complete and utter shock every single time the weather did its highly-varied dance of confusion, I wouldn’t post about it so often. I swear, it happened all within about 20 minutes yesterday.

Yesterday we biked about 20 minutes to The Worst Car Boot Sale In London. At least it was after 8 a.m. and we got in for 60p total. And I did get two cds: Goldfrapp’s Felt Mountain and The Dandy Warhols’ 13 Tales From Urban Bohemia at £2 each (high price for a boot sale, I’ve lost my head for bargaining). Too bad Goldfrapp is boring and I already had a copy of 13 Tales. FYI: Courtney Taylor-Taylor is gorgeous in a slightly frightening way. Maybe it’s the no-bangs thing in that video. Other than that, I got a 15mm spanner (what we in America would call “a wrench”) for a quid and two glass plates suitable for placing under plants in pots for 10p each. Worth the entrance fee, I suppose, just to see the woman selling dying houseplants and to poke through large bins of tools, not to mention the van selling good-smelling yet disgusting roadside food that is, without fail, at every car boot sale.

I’ve decided to post some photos of coffee because I’m happy to be drinking some but also because I want to show to you in still photo form what I go through every morning.

Hand-ground coffee isn’t as sexy as it sounds.

Aaand, perc’ing. I think this is technically a percolator. Finally Flickr decides to work properly!

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We finally fixed the side gate, the access to our part of the building. It hadn’t been secured since before we moved in and was keeping one of our roommates up at night with the incessant screeeeee-ing and banging in the wind. It’s a pull-style latch and the boyfriend’s worried someone will yank on it too hard and lock themselves out or break it. We decided to put up a sign to that effect and I, of course, immediately knew it needed to be in haiku form. Do you agree? Which of the below proffered signages do you prefer? G’wan, comment to your hearts’ content.

A gentle pull yields
better results than a yank.
A breath, not a gale.

Doors yield to a light
touch of the pull, locking out
those who savage them.

Please don’t yank too hard:
the latch will not function
if broken.

Also: weather’s crap; we had to ride home from Parsons Green to Ealing last night in dreadful rain. My gloves, sweater, pants and shoes are still soaked. Thank god the vans came in the mail today! It was West drinks, moved from The Crabtree to White Horse (the Sloany Pony) in order to be closer to one of our compatriot’s homes – he’s just come out of the hospital after breaking his hip in a fall. We ate delicious burgers and sausages, chitty chatted and then headed over to the nearby home of the man who’d broken his hip. Fell off the bike while going quite slowly: wet tarmac and quick braking (front brake) do not mix. Slight abrasion to right shoulder, hip and knee, left ankle. Good times. The place is pretty wicked and Mr. F makes proper bloody marys. I took one to calm my nerves after the fall, it happened right outside his place.

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