The summer of homelessness and living with my parents and then my in-laws is over! I’m installed in an apartment in Chicago, I got a new job (luckily!!) and I’m settling in. Now I’m settled I’m going to post again. However, the pikey house is no longer on the prairie! And for that reason, you can keep up with me at my new address:
See you there!!!
It’s 90 degrees outside and I’m wearing a sweatshirt and wooly socks. Yes I’m back in America! Stupid air conditioning. My preferred method of dealing with it for the last few days has been to study outside (which has unfortunately led to sore eyes from squinting at a computer screen that I couldn’t see properly) and to close my bedroom door, close all the vents in there, and sneakily open the windows. And I’m planning on continuing that practice when Mr. Pikey gets back from his camping trip. Because it is NOT too hot to sleep!!! If you’re wondering why the sneaking it’s because I’m staying with my in-laws until we find a place in Chicago. Ugh. Constant air conditioning makes me want to cry. I HATE it. But I’m not complaining about it – I’m just going outside as much as I can. It isn’t my house after all. When my in-laws stayed at my house I did put the air on for them. At what I thought was a reasonable temperature. They moved into a hotel after one night.
Okay I was whinging yesterday.Over the next few days I’ve decided to take a few days off from dissertation writing to enjoy myself here with my Mam and Dad and with Mr. Pikey in the UK. Today we went to Scotland – we went to Rosslyn chapel which was really amazing. It was made famous by the Da Vinci Code, although it was a destination of interest before then. I sort of felt like it was probably nicer before it got tons of visitors all the time but it was interesting and so beautiful! It is just so ornate.The carvings are really interesting too – like the seven sins and seven virtues except charity and greed are flipped around. The dance with death showing seven dancers of different age, health, social class, gender etc. dancing with death to show the inevitable triumph of death over life. An upside down Lucifer. Hundreds of Green Men popping up everywhere. Definitely worth a visit!
On the drive up I thought it was kind of funny – we drove on the A1 and the minute you cross the Scottish border you go from it being quite boring, just another motorway, to being breathtakingly beautiful – you round the corner on crossing the Scottish border and there is purple heather, huge green hills dotted with sheep on one side and the blue sparkly sea on the other. Proud of my Scottish heritage!!* (My Dad is Scottish)
Tomorrow we’re off hiking in the borderlands – we’ve done this a few times before and it’s always pleasant. We have walks that give really vague directions so you always have a moment of panic and bewilderment when you can’t imagine you are going the right way. Such as “cross the stile and follow a roughly marked path of newly planted trees. Make for the farm in the distance, passing two fields. On reaching a copse of trees bear right and down a slope, crossing rough stones over a dene” – that sort of thing. Fun!
*Just need to include the caveat that I don’t see Scottish heritage as national identity that could be construed as exclusive ties of belonging. Part of my philosophical ethos I’ll explain at some point…
I have less than a week left in the UK. Sad. Sometimes I’m excited for going back and other times I’m dreading it. I wish I didn’t live so far from my family. That’s the killer. America in general is fine and I’m sure I’ll love living in Chicago but I HATE being so far from my family. It’s the worst. I feel better when I think about other people who do it though. Every time I meet another couple doing the same thing I feel a bit better about it.
Sadly my US-best friend who is a German married to a North Dakotan is leaving. They decided to make the move to Germany. And I’m super sad about it. I’m happy for her because I know that is what she wanted. But of course I’ll miss her company and also, I feel left behind. And worried I’ll end up without friends in Chicago since Mr. Pikey will meet people in his programme but my jobless state has persisted thus far. I’m worried we’ll never get the chance to move to the UK. If Mr. Pikey ends up with a fancy job offer to match his fancy PhD and lacks similar opportunities in the UK, how will I ever convince him to move here??? I need to stop thinking like that and start just taking things as they come and enjoying the moment. And I do – I only worry when I think about the bigger picture. I probably spend more quality time with my family than most people who live down the road from theirs. And I still talk on the phone to my Mam and Dad at least twice a week. And my sister and I message and email every day. I get alienated from my extended family. I was super close to my cousins growing up but now I’m starting to feel distanced from them – I’ve only seen them a couple of times since I’ve been here. That’s really sad for me but I don’t know what to do about it. Overall though, the everyday, I’m fine. So I should think about that. And just hope that a brilliant UK-based job offer comes through at the opportune moment.
I love being home, I do. But where is the sunshine??? I haven’t often has summers in the UK. When I was a kid I was put on a plane to Cyprus, where my grandparents would collect me at the airport (along with my sister) and I’d stay there for the summer holidays. I did that while at uni too. I’ve maybe had two or three whole summers in the UK without going to Cyprus, total, in my life. Since I moved to the US I can’t afford to go to Cyprus as frequently. I made it there last year for 5 days since I was doing funded research in Athens. But sadly, this year I can’t. So even though I’m British, the concept of British Summertime I still have trouble with. How can it be so cold and rainy? How??
I’ve been home for a fortnight now. my research purposes are moving relatively slowly but I do have some stuff and my dissertation writing is coming along. I have to tell myself that it’s okay to take some time to spend with my family or I feel guilty for every moment I’m not working on it. I also now have a handful of co-authored projects lined up and a drafted pedagogy paper that I need to polish and send to some professors for their opinion before I submit it. So that’s work.
This weekend I took the weekend off and went to visit my sister. I ended up on the Megabus because I left it too late to book a train and I couldn’t afford one (poor me). It wasn’t bad though, other than the fact that on the way down they didn’t let us off the bus at all and so I didn’t get to pee between 6am when I left the house and 3.30 when I got to my sister’s place. I do think bus stations are interesting places to observe people though – bus stations are never nice places. Train stations can be lovely, airports while big annoying places to be are generally nice – open spaces, clean, etc. But bus stations are always dark, dank and a bit grim, even if they’re brand new. Why is that?
With my sister we went out with her friends from work who were really funny – I had some great conversations and they were really nice and easy to fit in with. Sometimes when I’m with a big group of people I don’t know I go really quiet and find it hard to break into the conversation, but with these people I didn’t. Sometimes I wonder if it is the different conversation patterns between the US and the UK and it well might be. I ought to work on my American-style interaction skills…
Anyway, other details included West-London charity shops (three dresses for under twenty pounds – total, not each!). I used to live in East London and I thought I was awesome because I went to vintage shops and bought second hand things as people who frequent the East End often do. But people in West tend not to do it so much because they’re all posh rahs or something. They do however give their clothes to charity shops. Their designer expensive clothes. And rather than everything being labeled “vintage” and marked up as in E1, everything is labeled “second hand” and marked down because the W postcodes are a bit snobbier and much less obsessed with being super retro trendy than E1. But I’m not posting on here exactly which shops I go to because I want them to be full for me again when I next go down there in mid-July 🙂
We had a giant jug of Pimms between us and talked in a way you just can’t on the phone. Oh, to have proper face-to-face conversations with my sister every day would be the best thing ever. On a rainy Sunday we had brunch and ran some errands, then snuggled on the sofa and watched “My So-Called Life”, which we both loved in high school. Then my sister made a giant salad and a rice pudding. It was lovely.
I’ve spent my whole life looking up to my sister – she’s thirteen months older than me and just so impressive at everything she ever does. I can’t even post more about it because it’s officially a secret. That is how cool and glamorous she is. She’s basically awesome. When I have children in a few years, I plan to have two very close together so they can be close like my sister and I are. I want to give them the chance to have a better-than-best-friend like that.
On returning to the UK I’ve noticed something. People here dress differently to people in the US. The only way I can characterize it is as ‘more interestingly.’ It’s not that people here look consistently better or consistently worse. They just wear more interesting clothes – take more risks or something. And more accessories. I like the way people dress in the UK – but then, I like wearing interesting clothes and I like accessories. But it isn’t that everyone here looks great. Some people look dreadful, people in the UK certainly are not all immaculately dressed. In fact if you were the type of person who liked immaculate you would probably prefer the American way of dressing, which has a few rules and varies only depending on what rule set you choose to take on, save for a few people who wear interesting clothes but they are in the minority.
Americans don’t like their clothes to cause them any bother. So they like loose fitting comfortable clothes. They like pockets. Cargo shorts and the like.
Frat boys wear a collared shirt or a polo shirt, cargo shorts, flipflops.
Sorority girls wear leggings and a shirt short enough that their bums are on display.
Other students wear sweatpants. Some, with slippers.
Hipsters of both genders wear skinny jeans and flannels.
Men who work in offices wear shirt, tie and khakis (car keys)* during the week, and polos tucked into belted jeans at weekends.
*One time, Mr. Pikey and I had a big fight when I asked where his khakis were and he kept saying “in my hand why” and I kept screaming “No they’re not! Why do you keep saying that?” – the whole time I was trying to imitate his pronunciation of what I would call trousers, or possibly slacks. He thought I wanted the car keys.