Tag Archives: London

Living Situation Update

One of the effects of not knowing how long you’ll be in the country is not knowing how long you should keep your flat.

So last month I gave my notice on my flat on Brick Lane. I was here just over a year and although the flat had some issues (not the best landlords) I really loved living here. Brick Lane might have been noisy, but it was vibrant and central and interesting.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do once I was past my move-out date (which is this Friday) because I didn’t know (and still don’t know) how long I would be here. 

Happily, my lovely friends Rich and Nell offered their spare room for the weekend, which was the first worry covered. It means so much that my first few nights homeless will be in the home of the loveliest couple in London.

I wasn’t too sure what I was going to do past this weekend though. I have a weekend to spend in Brighton with the fabulous Craig and Kevin, and couch offers from Kristi and Eva… but I have been growing increasingly concerned that I’ll be here long enough still that I could become a bother. Not having my passport or knowing when I’ll get it back is such a joy.

So, with great relief, I’ve found a room to sublet in Hackney for just under a month. The timing is perfect; they were looking for someone to take the room starting the day after I’m done at Rich and Nell’s place and until just about mid-October. 

Total strangers. But the place was tidy and there was lots of art on the walls. It had a homey feel and even though there are usually three boys living there, it didn’t smell like boy. And they have a super friend cat that I’m going to squish for a month.

Hopefully it will all work out. I’ve had issues with flatmates in East London before: I haven’t seen the Denizens of Aurghville for years now but I’m still emotionally scarred. If nothing else, I’ll end up with more stories and loads of kitty pictures for Instagram.

Not My Day in Court

In another universe, yesterday would have been the day I’d be in court to fight the decision handed to me by the UKBA back in March. And with how often I get asked “So how are you doing with everything anyway” these days, I thought I’d give a quick update on how I’m feeling about things and stuffs now that the court day has come and gone.

I still feel like I made the right decision to not pursue the hearing. Although logically the “punishment” (deportation and a 12 month re-entry ban) seems to severely outweigh the “crime” (missed a tickmark) in this situation, I still believe that a judge would have been hesitant to set precedence in this case by overturning the decision of the UKBA. So had I been in court yesterday, I honestly believe today I would have been out a hefty lawyer’s fee and just getting the gears in motion to move on.

I do wish I had more information from the UKBA earlier (like back in December, when the first application was returned would have been nice). If they had sent me back everything in March I wouldn’t have ever filed for the hearing and could have gotten moving earlier. That would have meant avoiding spending the last six months as I have done: Waiting in limbo for my life to change.

I’m not happy about having to leave my friends behind. In the past six years living so far from home many in London have become like family to me. I’m grateful that keeping in touch is easier than ever, but a Skype call is not the same as a pint down at pub. I’m going to miss a lot of people an awful lot.

My career in the London tech scene, which was just progressing nicely from operations to project and product management, also gets put on hold. At best gets put on hold. With 12 months out of the country, it could very well be the end of that progression. A year is a long time in technology and if I want to return, I may have to start at the beginning again. And I’m starting to feel a bit too old for that nonsense.

And leaving London stinks. I love this silly old city so much and I feel like although I’ve been so fortunate to have explored so much of it, I’ve definitely not seen enough. I could live a thousand years I think and not see enough of it.

But on to happier thoughts. There are some positives on the other side of all this bureaucratic governmental idiocy.

I am very excited about teaching again. I really enjoyed my time as a teacher before and looking forward to working with the kids again. I’ve actually had a student from when I was there previously get in touch and it’s made me realise how much I missed working with the little monsters.

I’m happy to be heading back to Asia. South Korea is an amazing country and I highly recommend checking it out. Of course, from there it is also easy and affordable to visit other countries in Southeast Asia… something else I’m really looking forward to. With any luck, this Christmas you’ll find me on a Malaysian island beach instead of sitting about in my pants in a cold London flat, eating leftover pizza and playing Civilisation.

So how am I feeling?  

I’m alright. I have a lot to do in the next few weeks – like move out of my flat this week, hassle the UKBA for my passport (oh yah, those dirty birds still have it), find a teaching job in Korea and finish my Korean paperwork for my Korean visa. And do all that without a job or a home.

It’s a scary time. But it is also an exciting time. At least you shouldn’t hear me complain about being bored for the next few weeks.

Dance of the Paperwork (Part 1 of Most Likely 1 Billion)

As people find out that I’m having to leave the UK, I generally get asked two things:

  1. Are you okay?
  2. What’s next?

I am okay.

Google "I'm okay" in images and this is what comes up.

Google “I’m okay” in images and this is what comes up.

Some days are totally fine, I feel good about having some ideas about what to do next and taking steps towards getting there. So I have to go; I get to go on another adventure.

Then other days I think about how none of this was my choice and how much I’m being forced to give up. Those days suck.

But mostly… I’m okay.

My next steps are to wrap up life here and to start getting stuff together for the next part of the journey

Right now that means trying to get my paperwork together to go back to Korea to teach. I’m also (thanks to Heather) going to make some enquiries into teaching in Istanbul. Korea is much more likely at this point, I don’t think I’ll be able to make enough money in Turkey to cover my loan payments in the UK as well as, you know, live and eat and stuff. But it is still worth looking into.

Which means it is time for the Dance of the Paperwork. Again.

I’ve got a lot to get together in order to apply for my E-2 visa to teach in K-town. And it is made much more difficult as there are bits that need to happen in Canada and Korea and England. Yarg! Paperwork everywhere! Thank goodness my mother is in Canada and can help at that end (best mommies ever).

The only other real complication is that I don’t know how much time I have. I’ve been moving on leaving the UK… but I haven’t heard from the UKBA. I don’t know how long it will take to get my passport back nor have I been told how long I have to get my shit together and get out of here. I am going to draft them a letter and try to get some answers.

Side Note: How fucking stupid is it that there is no direct line of communication with the people handling your ‘case’? There’s a useless email address for complaints (they responded well beyond the timeframe they gave for my first complaint, they’ve never responded to the second) and a phone number you can call if you a) want to spend 10 minutes on the phone trying to navigate a labyrinth of options so complex that you only finally get through to a person once you start quietly sobbing to yourself and b) want to speak to someone who can’t actually help you AT ALL but will be friendly and somewhat sympathetic. Your only real option is to write them a letter and post it. And wait. While you are trying to get your life sorted. You wait.

Hopefully I’ll find out soon enough what my actual timeframes are. In the meantime, I’m pushing hard to get my documentation sorted for Korea, getting rid of everything that won’t fit in one of two suitcases, and saying good-bye to everyone.

For the want of a checkmark, a kingdom was lost

Or Queendom, as the case may be.

And speaking of cases… I’ve made a very difficult decision to withdrawal my appeal to the first level tribunal and leave the UK. I’m not entirely sure what the timing will be, but it is looking like I will be leaving sometime in late September.

So what happened?

The first thing that you need to keep in mind is that I am entirely and unquestionably eligible for the Ancestry UK Visa I had applied for. The only criteria are really that you were born in a Commonwealth country (feel the wrath of Canada!) and had a parent or grandparent born in the UK (thank you, Scotland-born Grandma S.).

My visa application was not rejected because of an issue with my eligibility or even my supporting documentation (it was all there). No, my visa was rejected because of issues with the UKBA taking payment.

But surely this is still be worth taking to court? Well… not really. The mistakes are technically mine. Technically. I think that’s what makes this so incredibly painful. Yes, I made a mistake on the payment page of my application (twice). But was it so massive that I deserve to be deported and made to stay out of the UK for a year?

Here’s the error:

payment_page

Do you spot it? Maybe you are much smarter and eagled-eyed than I am (although I’m a pretty meticulous and thorough person). I’ve shown this page to several people… I usually have to point out what exactly had been missed. If you found it, you are awesome and deserve to stay in the UK (haha). If you missed it, go back and look at number five. If you are STILL missing it, let me know and I’ll send you a picture with a red circle around it.

The issue is that I didn’t tick the box with “£561” in it to indicate how much money they should charge me. I somehow missed this box on two applications in a row. Maybe it’s because of how not-obvious it is? Or is that just me? Should there be a tick-box for the box?

But wait! There’s more!

It is also extremely frustrating that because payment is handled by a separate company  subcontracted by the UKBA, that company cannot a) contact me for payment clarification or b) turn the fucking page and look at my application to see what sort of application I was making.

They cannot contact me because they are not “contracted or qualified” to contact applicants (that’s direct from the UKBA by the way; personally I like the idea that they have a company full of people not qualified to pick up a phone and interact with human beings that are processing visa payments).

They cannot look at my application because of “data protection laws”… yet the payment process company also looks at every piece of my supporting documentation (including my passport, birth certificate and bank statements) so I’m not sure how that works.

So that was my first two applications. Returned to me as “invalid” because they were “not accompanied by payment”.

So yup. My fault because I didn’t tick a box. But I cannot help but think that if the agency wasn’t so broken, their procedures so poor, that my application wouldn’t have been sent back invalid because of this. This could have been avoided if they allowed for online payments or hired people “qualified” to contact applicants for alternative forms of payment.

But there is still more – my third application was sent back to me as well for not having a payment with it. As with the previous two, I had no idea from their letters what had happened. The way they word the letter, it makes it sound like you were missing the payment page (which I so hadn’t). But since the hearing stuff kicked off, they finally provided more information about what happened with the third application.

They tried to take payment for my third application on 31 December 2012. Honestly, who tries to take payment in the late afternoon on New Years Eve? Unfortunately, on that day there was a hold on my card because I had missed my payment at the beginning of December. This might be my favourite bit of this entire circus, because that one is legitimately my fault. But I can’t help but feel burned by the UKBA in this situation as well anyway – a) I had switched from my debit to credit card because I thought perhaps the previous two payment issues had been with my debit card  and b) I missed paying that bill most likely because I had been fucking around with UKBA visa applications at the beginning of the month when the bill was due, and c) had they been able to process my first application (or second!) the third would have not been an issues. But alas!

So why am I dropping the hearing? Surely a human being looking at this situation would see that I’ve been kinda dicked around by the broken processes of the UKBA. I’m completely eligible for my visa, not a criminal, and have been contributing my bit to the UK for nearly six years now (taxes, working the tech scene, general awesomeness, etc). Had I gone in to their offices the first time (it would just take a day off work and an extra £300 or whatever), this never would have happened. Surely the judge would see that this proves it was them and not me?

I think there is the potential to get one of two kinds of judge: Either a human who sees how ludicrous this situation is, and that the punishment grossly outweighs the mistake that was made; or another government automaton who will not look past the technicality of the mistake.

So a 50/50 chance(ish). Are those odds high enough to warrant how much the lawyer would cost and the continued life-on-hold situation?

There is a further complication. Even if I was lucky enough to get a Good Guy Judge, and he (or she, but most likely he) wanted to be humane and  reasonable about what has happened… he will have to keep it in mind that how he rules in my case will set precedence for later hearings where perhaps the appellant isn’t trying to play by the rules as I am. Which would drastically reduce my chances from 50% down to too-low. And I certainly cannot afford to take my case to the Upper Tribunal. It was always going to be “win at the Lower Tribunal or go home”.

I don’t think my chances of winning the case are good enough to push forward. Although it means giving up so much (my life is here in London now), it also means giving up a handful of things I haven’t wanted… like paying a lawyer’s fee. And coming home every day and feeling sick if there is mail. And not being able to make  plans past 10 September. And feeling like a criminal even though I did nothing wrong. And not being able to just get on with living a normal life. And this constant, underlying and undefined fear that I don’t even want to talk about because it sounds SO DRAMATIC even to me. All of that. I’m happy to give up all those things.

So this is how my UKBA story ends. I suppose it shouldn’t be a happy ending if the bad guys win. But I plan on making the most of it and getting on with getting on. Further updates on next steps for another post. But here’s a teaser: It involves heading back to Asia. Where getting a visa isn’t such a freaking circus.

Holy macaroni this was a long post. Thank you so much for reading. What got me through this horrible year of UKBA rottenness has been the support of everyone. My family and friends, obviously… but also all the other people out there in the big, bad world that had great advice, kind words of encouragement and their own stories to share. The UKBA makes you feel like you are alone. You wonderful lot proved that this is not true. Thank you.

My growing agoraphobia and other stories

I’ve never been all that fond of groups of humans. I love individuals. That’s why although herds of people give me the willies, I’m happy to observe them. Just as long as I’m not thrown in the throng of the quivering masses, all is well. But as soon as I have to subject myself to being surrounded by them… not so good.

Which is why there was so much donkey-ball-sucking about this weekend.

First, Friday. 

Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day. Where the British celebrate thwarting the Gunpowder Treason by blowing shit up. How appropriate.

Tyran had the grand idea that we go watch the best display of fireworks from what was supposed to be the best vantage point in the city – Battersea Park. Idiotically, I agreed, never thinking that a bajillion other people in the city were planning the same thing.

The first part of the trip being balls was partially my fault. I assumed we were meeting at Clapham Junction. So I hop a busy train at London Bridge and cruise to Waterloo East. Bust through to Waterloo and… what a clusterfuck. So many trains are delayed, the station’s packed, and everyone is looking at the departure boards instead of where they are walking.

Fortunately there was one (already severely delayed) train going to Clapham Junction waiting at a platform. I haul ass to get myself on it as there was no way of knowing when it would depart. Well, it sat there for another 10 minutes while more and more people shoved their way on.  Finally, when the train was busting at the seams, it left.

As soon as it started moving, a light bulb went off: There are a handful of stations that begin with “Clapham”. Was I sure, positively and 100% SURE, that I needed to go to Clapham Junction?

Turns out I’m retarded. We were meeting at Clapham Common, which isn’t the same thing as Clapham Junction at all. So I get off the sweaty, packed train at Vauxhall, and take the Victoria Line to Stockwell where I could catch the Northern Line going south just two sweaty stops to Clapham Common. Not as easy as getting on that same damned line directly at London Bridge, but doable.

Until I tried to get on the Northern Line.

The platform was so packed that people were backed up all the to the escalators. Instead of joining the queue I left the station and caught me a bus. So far, so good –  the right bus came right away and I even got a seat. It was fabulous and I was feeling pretty smug about my decision.  Until the bus started rolling.

Turns out I’m retarded. There was so much traffic – vehicles and people – that the bus crawled. Crrraaaaawwwwllled. It was painful. And because I wasn’t familiar with the burough I was in, I was reluctant to get out of the bus and walk. So I stuck with it.

To cut a long, whiny story short: By the time I got off the bus at Clapham Common I was beginning to daydream about an apocalyptic future where I was the only survivor. People were swarming about and getting in my way. There was no mobile signal as every twat in London was on their phone in a two square mile radius, so I couldn’t even contact my people to try and find them.

And while I was standing at the station, the fireworks started. I could see the odd little spark above the tree line, and that was about it. So with an audible “fuck this shit” I turned from the station and, upstream from the human turds all floating down towards the river to watch the fireworks, I headed as far from the crowds as I could get, angry and miserable.

But all is well that ends well, and Friday ended well. It ended in a quiet pub with lovely ales on tap and a great dinner with two of my friends. I swore I would never toss myself into a crowd like that again. Sadly, that was an oath I couldn’t keep.

On Saturday…

I went with Tyran to Camden. The busiest tube line and station (or at least, it felt that way) to walk along the busiest street and into the busiest market. And it is full of tourists, which is even worse. But despite the crowds, we had a lot of fun (and I got a lampshade with pirates! WIN.)

Because I apparently can’t get enough of people (yarg) or the TFL (fuuuuu….) we headed back home for a brief reprise and then back out to go to a house party. This meant hauling ass across the entire city from southwest to northeast. Most of it was okay… except the bus. I never, ever want to ride a bus in northeast bloody London again. I swear I overheard the bus driver call another bus driver a “cunt”. Loudly. I wouldn’t have been surprised to find out that he was armed. Never again.

The party was fun though and got to have some nice chats. We may have missed our bus stop on the way home but the trip – relatively sans people – was quiet and nice even though we got home late.

I thought I would be safe on Sunday. 

Sure, I had a gig to go to… but gig-goers are more my kind of people. I mean: I am a gig-goer myself, and I’m (mostly) okay. So why wouldn’t they be?  Fuck me.

The bus was another shit-show in a weekend of TFL shit-shows. We sat perfectly still in traffic for a good 30 minutes. Fucking awesome, TFL. Do that. Do exactly that. Despite the best efforts of the traffic of Hammersmith trying to fuck us over, we made it to the gig nearly on time – we just missed part of the opening act.

The crowd was the worst I’ve had in a long, long time. So bad. In front of us were two guys: one with eye-wateringly foul body order and the other one with some lower-intestinal gastric issue. Look asshole; just because I can’t hear your farts doesn’t mean I can’t smell them. Idiot.

To my left was the douchiest douche that ever douched. Seriously. While waiting for Rodrigo y Gabriela to take the stage, he was busy sexting. It wasn’t the sexting that put me off so fucking badly. It was that he was sexting three girls simultaneously. Way to go, Romeo. But he wasn’t so bad. Douchey, but at least he wasn’t stinky like Team Offensive Odour in front of us. No, no. What was AWESOME was when a very loud, very obnoxious and very, very drunk girl tried to pick him up. She stood beside him and very loudly expressed her views about how much the music sucked. I feel punchy a lot (anger issues, eh?) but that was the closest I’ve come to actually punching someone in the face at a gig.

Behind me was a mouth breather. Who was breathing on my neck. Sick.

To my right (thank goodness!) was Eva. Who is normal. And smells nice. And is considerate enough to not scream about how shite the music is throughout the concert. And is actually quite lovely, as she is the one who took me to the concert.

Sadly, to HER right were more idiots. A hobbit, an ugly woman in cat-eye frames and their two unbelievably annoying friends pushed in beside Eva and then proceeded to push everyone else into us who tried to push their way past them. Bad karma, dudes.

Good thing the music was fucking awesome.

So that was my weekend of transport woes and hatred of my fellow mankind. By the end, I just wanted to punch everyone in the cock. And I thought commuting all week was bad….

>Rage and Hope

>Today I decided I wanted to go for a float and a massage, to work out some of the week and especially to work out the knots of the night before. I managed to book an appointment and left work a wee bit early to head over to Floatworks. The float was amazing – I actually slept in the tank of water and really relaxed. The massage was painful, but good painful. I feel like he really worked out some of the stress and tension that I was carrying around. Which I needed.

So I’m walking blissfully out of Floatworks towards London Bridge station, enjoying how relaxed I’m feeling and thinking about looking for my passport so I can get some cash out tomorrow (my bank card went AWOL and needs replacing). Not much else, really.  And then I heard a noise that was a little out of the ordinary, but not hugely. Like someone had hit the brakes, hard.

That is what that noise was. Someone had hit the brakes. Hard.

I’ve seen people get hit by cars before. This didn’t sound like that; when I turned to look – it didn’t look like that.

There was a cab – a licenced blackcab. Stopped. And, to be honest, what looked like a large garbage bag now resting mostly under the front bumper. The cab was not moving.  The bag wasn’t moving. People had turned to look, probably because of the sound of the brakes, but no one was moving towards the cab. It was like everything was perfectly frozen.

And then the dark shape under the front bumper of the cab moved.

As I said – it didn’t sound or look like a person had been hit initially when I turned to look. It sounded more like a near-miss. But obviously someone had. The cab was still not moving. No one (not the driver, not the passengers) was getting out of the vehicle. But the people on the pavement (and from the bus that was now stopped behind the cab) were finally starting to move.

I’m going to confess something at this point that I’m not entirely proud of. At that moment, even though at this point I knew that someone was down on the ground, possibly very hurt, and that I had witnessed (at least in part) what had happened; part of me just wanted to keep walking. To keep walking so that I could get home. To walk away and pretend I had saw nothing so that the rest of my evening would not be ruined. So I could get home early. So I could stay relaxed, go home and get the sleep I so desperately need right now.  And I’m not proud of that. I even rationalised walking away in such a way that it wasn’t until later when I could reflect that I even realised how much I had been rationalising. As I stood there, I was thinking: “There are lots of other people here, and they aren’t making emergency type movements… I’m sure it isn’t as bad as it looks.”   That was the kind of thinking I was doing without even realising what I was thinking. Self-preservation at it’s finest hour: “Get me out of here, and here are a few good reasons why I can go.” Thanks, brain.

But then I saw the most horrific thing. And stayed.

The cab driver (and his passengers) still hadn’t left the cab. But then, and I still can’t believe I saw this, that son of a bitch reversed the cab, drove around the body, and continued to the station doors.

He reversed, drove around the body, and kept going.

That’s when I decided to involve myself. Because that is not right. That’s just not right. Someone was hurt – whether badly or not was yet to be decided. But that driver had done wrong, and wasn’t owning up to it. He wasn’t taking responsibility. He wasn’t going to do anything about it. It was making my insides churn. It still is. What a horrible, horrible man.

I followed the cab, and took a couple of pictures of the licence plates. I wasn’t the only one. This may be the only time I’m honestly grateful for smartphones, for cameraphones. It allows people to record what is happening to ensure human beings don’t get away with being dreadful to other human beings.

Another girl was doing the same as I was. She also tried to get pictures of the driver, which wasn’t making him happy at all. And I stood with her when she was explaining why she was doing it – mainly that we had seen him drag a body under his car, then reverse and drive around it – and that piece of shit denied that anything had happened.

He had reversed, drove around the body, and was now denying that anything had happened.

Here’s the rub: the poor soul that was now lying bleeding and broken in the street had been clearly living hard and recently drinking heavily. People who had actually seen what had happened said that the guy had either passed out in the road, tripped and fell, or lay down in front of that car.

So the driver probably saw him very, very late – explaining the hard braking. And it is entirely possible that the man lay down in front of the car, wanting to be hit. Wanting a warm place to sleep – be it eternally or just for the night in the A&E. It is possible. And I think had the cabbie reacted differently, the sympathies of the witnesses would not have been just with the victim, but for the driver as well. He did brake. He tried to stop and it is possible that he just couldn’t in time. Which would be horrifying – imagine if that was you driving and couldn’t stop in time. You’d have nightmares forever about that.

But you can’t sympathise with someone who is cold enough to reverse and drive around the person they just hit. There is no excuse for that. I’m still shaking my head about it. I cannot believe that driver. Or his fucking passengers. Had I been in that cab, I would have been out of the car to see what had happened in a heartbeat. Those people got their luggage out and caught their fucking train. Everyone in that cab just puts me into a blind rage about mankind.

But I do also have hope. I have hope in the half dozen people who acted. Who took pictures. Who confronted the cab driver. Who comforted the man in the street. Who called emergency services and grabbed the police. Who willingly stuck around and gave their names and their statements to the police.

And I have hope again in myself. Because although I hesitated initially, I was one of those people in the end.

Five years

>It was never meant to be this long. I had only intended to go teach in Korea for one year and come home.

But one year was so fun it turned into two. But part way through the second year, I realised that it was wearing thin for me and I wasn’t keen to stay for a third year. The big question for me is: Why didn’t I go home at that point?

I get asked “Why Korea?” a lot. And “Why London?” a lot. But only a few people have asked why I didn’t go home at the end of the second year. I think other than my moms, I am the only other person who really questions that.

Let’s start with “Why Korea?”. It was more the case of “Why NOT Korea?”. I didn’t really mean to go to Korea… I just meant to leave Canada and there Korea was, providing and easy out. Someone else sorted my paperwork, flights, job and accommodations. My new life prepackaged. I just had to show up.

So that’s “Why Korea?” answered. Easy breezy lemon squeezy. Now, “Why London?”…. that’s not nearly as easy to answer. Difficult difficult lemon difficult.

As I said, I knew I didn’t want to stay in Korea beyond my second year. But I wasn’t feeling the go-home feeling either. So I started looking at other options.

At first, things weren’t looking so good. I may be educated and good at what I do, but I definitely do not classify as a “skilled worker”. I was also past the magic “holiday makers” visa age already. I had already decided that if I was leaving Korea, I was leaving Asia, so teaching in another country around there wasn’t really an option.

That’s when I discovered that my dad’s mom was actually born in Scotland, not Saskatchewan as I had always thought. Suddenly, I was eligible for a five-year ancestry visa in the UK. So I applied for that and started scheming.

My schemes had nothing to do with what life would be like in the UK. I was too busy thinking about how I was going to get here (the blog entries regarding the Epic Train Journey of Epicness haven’t moved to this blog yet – as soon as I get that done I’ll link) and not so much what I would do when I got here. Because I honestly had no clue. I didn’t even have it in my head yet which city I was going to live in, or what I would do for a job, or anything, really. No freaking clue.

So… that’s “Why the UK?” answered, I suppose; but not so much “Why London?”.

I suppose I chose London because it felt right. I also really like Belfast and Glasgow, but I was pulled here. And I’m (most days) happy that I was. I’ve met amazing people, have had great experiences and I’ve been able to live in one of the greatest cities on the planet. As your man (Samuel Johnson) said: “Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” I ain’t tired of it yet.

I’ve got just over two years left on my visa, and that means I have a decision to make fairly soon. I get the feeling that I’ll stay in London for the remainder of that time… although I’m aware that, as the consummate opportunist, I’ll move if compelled to move.

After that? Who knows. Depending on how life is in the autumn of 2012, I’ve been thinking of another year teaching in Asia (I did miss seeing Japan, after all) and then re-applying for another visa and returning to the UK. If I do that, I doubt I’ll come back to London though. It may be Ireland or Scotland that has to learn to love me upon my return.

What I can’t imagine right now is going back home at that time.

I left Canada because I was miserable. No need to go into detail. I wasn’t happy. So I left. I needed to change, so I changed… everything. Flair for the dramatic, me.

Am I happier now? Well, hard to say. Things aren’t great right now, to be honest. But I feel more in control of it. I’m a different person in a million different little ways now, so I guess I feel differently about the situation that I’m in. I guess I know now that if I want to, I can make a huge change and survive. Fuck. Survive? More than that. I can rip that shit up and roll with whatever the changes bring – good or bad. And knowing that you can handle it is a powerful thing.

And although I am not perfectly content here and I need to work on some changes (and I AM working on some changes); I know that being back home wouldn’t make any of it better. It’s the only thing I’m certain about.

Besides, a wise woman once told me that it is never worth taking a step if it is taking a step back. So I don’t plan on moving backwards at this point; I’m going to keep looking forward and stare down my future.