Surrey, GU25 4QF
by Beau Cadiyo
Living abroad sucks sometimes.
Here are the things that are bothering me:
I don't speak the language. I don't write it. Every time I send an email, Google tells me I'm spelling "realize" or "color" or some other word incorrectly, and I'm like, no, that's how you spell it, except that's how you spell it IN AMERICA, and here it's different.
I can't tell when people are apologizing or when they're just being English-polite. See, everyone - EVERYONE - says "sorry" all the time, for everything. I could punch someone in the face and they'd say, "Sorry - didn't know your fist was moving in that direction, sorry, sorry, ta." So I am always reassuring people that everything's fine, they don't need to apologize, and there's a moment where they look exasperated, like they're thinking, "I wasn't actually sorry, I just said it because that's what we say here." Which then makes me feel socially awkward. And then I question myself. And then it's just this big spiral of self-doubt.
I have no job. While I've been doing some job hunting and interviewing, there really isn't much point in trying to secure a full-time position until April, when I'll be in London full-time. My sole source of income has been sharpening straight razors, which, while it definitely gets me in a Flow state, doesn't pay for Sipsmith and Laphroaig.
Getting to London is expensive. Food's cheap, coffee is cheap, and now that I'm distance running, exercise is cheap, but to get into the city I have to pay about $20, and then there are Underground passes, drinks, coffee, meals, cigars, etc. My life in Cleveland was manageable, even with Union Club dues. London is different.
And...that's really about it.
Part of the problem with being human, it strikes me as I'm writing what was intended to be a list of serious complaints, is that we rarely look at the good things that are going on in our lives, and we blow these minor things up into major problems. It's far too easy to look at the annoyances, or the little peas under 80 mattresses (or whatever it was in that children's story), than remember what's going swimmingly.
But my mentor, Frank, emailed me yesterday and asked me what I'd been up to. After thinking for almost 20 seconds, I came up with this list:
Things I've done in the last ten days:
- Ran a half-marathon in Paris;
- Foraged for plants and animals on the Jurassic Coast;
- Bought a pewter 1/2 pint tankard from the last King George reign for £2 and a leather-covered flask for £1 at an outdoor gypsy market;
- Interviewed for a dream job with a distillery;
- Even though working for a distillery would be awesome, I also set up another interview with a guy who seems like the older, Englisher version of me, and I kind of want to work for/learn from him more than I want to work for a distillery;
- Shaved my head for the first time in two years;
- Infused my own gin;
- Started organizing social media for a debate Club, the goal of which will be intense networking;
- Pulled "How Proust Can Change Your Life" from the shelf and packed it in my carry-on for a two week romp through California.
I will, however, suggest to the Wheatsheaf that they get their act together, burger-wise. They have a six ounce gourmet burger on the menu, topped with an egg, bacon, etc. It is basically an attempt to make something akin to the (actually quite excellent) gourmet burgers that are served in every city and many small towns in America, the height of which can be found at the Tremont Tap House. At the Wheatsheaf, however, all of the ingredients are pretty good except the burger patty itself. They apparently pull it out of a box in the freezer and drop it on the griddle to dehydrate; it is totally unimpressive. In fact, it is worse than unimpressive; because the core and most basic element of the burger is sub-par, and it's combined with excellent toppings, the entire thing is more disappointing than if everything had been crappy. They forget the foundation and focus on the accoutrements; they major in minor things. For that, I give the Wheatsheaf three stars out of 47.