Thu Mar 16th, 2006 at 11:04:17 AM EST
For those who are familiar with my dear husband-to-be... meet the other side of Migeru :). This is a recount of our move from California and our attempts to establish ourselves again on the European soil. (Er, actually, the Brits somehow don't believe they're part of Europe... which is keeps puzzling me over and over again.}
December 2004: Utter exhaustion. Leaving Riverside. Lots of wet Kleenex. Stress beyond description. Recovery in Spain via eating Spanish tortillas and sleeping. More stress in the Czech Republic -- Christmas does not turn out exactly as planned. Family and cultural friction. Siberian temperatures, yet not a single snowflake. Sightseeing painful as limbs are too stiff to walk. Miguel sick with a stomach influenza, spending much of the holidays heaving over white porcelain, regurgitating carp leftovers. Barbara not happy.
January 2005: Back in Spain. Miguel in better form. Sightseeing more fun. Less cold. Jonathan's language confusion reaches its peak. On the 17th stepping onto the British soil. Driving for three hours with a friend before finding the ominous place where bad things are going to happen. Spending the first week handling Miguel's job interview in Brighton and wandering aimlessly through London's boonies. Waiting for B.'s university to enrol her and for a response about the job. Enjoying talking to our roommates and getting various tips on the life in London. On the last day of the week getting robbed by roommates. Jonathan and Barbara undocumented aliens once more.
Most valuables gone. Lots of hair-pulling and head-banging. Despair sets in. Barbara's university is being obstinate and refuses enrolment. Needing to recover once again. Heading up north to Keyworth to be with the nice friends that drove us around London for three hours.
February: Finally settled in. Found a "lovely" flat for the bargain price of 700 pounds a month. The bath has no shower. Requesting shower from landlord. Landlord brings a short tube that attaches to the taps. Taking baths instead. The toilet is a hybrid mixed with a washer. It spins diligently but flushes only on good days. Making friends with the toilet for weeks. Walls filthy, furniture ho hum. Carpet has never seen a cleaner. Fortunately it's dark blue. University finally decides that since Barbara lived in the US for the past decade, she is an overseas student (NEVER MIND THE CZECH PASSPORT!!!) Barbara appeals at the Supreme Court. Barbara loses the case. Not happy. Abandoning the idea of studying that semester. Miguel gets a NO from the company in Brighton. Barbara starts looking for a job.
March: An all-time low. Weather abominable. House a bit better but still looks like crap. Barbara depressed. Frequent visits to Ikea severely deplete financial resources. Got a futon. Living room maxed out. Hostility towards the existing couch and matching armchairs escalates into grotesque proportions. Barbara finally gets a temp job at a magistrates' court. Heaps of work for next to nothing. Barbara falls on her face on her way home. Buses sway on the roads under the weight of passengers. Nose-pickers frequently spotted. Up close and personal with mute and stern peoples of half of the world. Miguel schooled in homemaking and childcare while waiting for more interviews. Jonathan bored out of his socks. More waiting. Miguel morphs into a raging lunatic. Soothes his frazzled nerves by spending 12 hours a day playing GO online and generally pretending he isn't there. House absolutely intolerable. Barbara weeps as she burns midnight oil translating after work. Relationship on rocks - no, mountains. Barbara seriously considering leaving for CZ.
April: A turning point. Miguel gets a job. A hedge fund has mercy and hires him just in time before Barbara takes off. Grinning and bearing the last few weeks before the start of work. Jonathan and Miguel outta hand. Wooden spoons used frequently. Washer breaks. Kitchen turned into a footbath. Miguel demonstrates cerebral atrophy as he drags dripping laundry into a nearby launderette.
May: Miguel at work. Miguel very happy. Gets free fruit and a nice chair. Salary good. Life returning to semi-normal. Jonathan starts school. Jonathan happy. Painting the living room orange and the hallway yellow as homage to Riverside. Looking loads better. Nasty couch inched through hallway to the neighbours downstairs. Room to do somersaults. Barbara unpacks her suitcase and decides to give it another go. Applies for an interpreting program at London Metropolitan. Gets invited for an entrance exam.
June: Last month at the court. Barbara a pro in court busy work, getting too good for her own good. More work upended onto her desk. Translation agency does the same. Barbara freaks out. Plans a 5-week getaway in her homeland to rest. Miguel twiddles his thumbs at work as his boss is yet to acknowledge his presence. Miguel frustrated but still a lot less cantankerous than in March. Free fruit and cereal have therapeutic effect. Finally takes things in his own hands and becomes involved in the O project (shusssh, it's a secret!). Barbara's friends Emily and Camille from Riverside come and visit. Barbara prepares for entrance exam. More work pours in. Barbara counts days to take off. Emily and Camille walk unsupervised around London. Barbara sad.
July: Barbara, Jonathan and Emily leave for the Czech Republic. Miguel left bereft. His mother comes to the rescue and flies in from Spain, trekking through London's boroughs by day and solving Sudoku puzzles by night as Miguel gets his daily dose of computer radiation. Barbara reacquaints herself with her native soil and old friends. Discovers some are so old they've forgotten she was coming, and have left the country. Improvisation at searching for shelter becomes the hallmark of several weeks. Jonathan polishes his Czech and develops an unhealthy obsession with Barbara's sister Halina (partly due to supplied generous portions of candy and chocolates). Miguel flies in briefly and enjoys the Czech Republic without the need of Imodium. Barbara spends good quality time with all, but by the end of five weeks she's grateful to fly back to London and solve Sudoku puzzles as Miguel gets his daily dose of computer radiation.
August: London sizzles in tropical temperatures. Good ol' Miguel's mother flies in again to baby-sit Jonathan so Barbara and Miguel can take a breath for a weekend. Decide to take a Haggis bus tour to Wales. See lotsa sheep, hear lots of dumb jokes about sheep, too. Picnicking around ruins and shielding from seagull droppings becomes the staple of the journey. The landscape is impressive. Lots of stops for Kodak moments. Also visit Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch, which means "The church of St. Mary in the hollow of white hazel trees near the rapid whirlpool by St. Tysilio's of the red cave". Whatever. Saw no whirlpools or red caves, just a dull railroad station. Maybe St. Tysilio worked there.
Bunk beds in hostels mar attempts at romance. Otherwise a good trip.
September: An uneventful month. Barbara turns into a human hamster running on treadmills in a local leisure centre. Waits for school to start since she got accepted into the interpreting program. She also learns about becoming certified as a yoga teacher in six months at a Yoga Show. Jumps at the opportunity. Miguel spends days charting tables of family finances but is lovingly supportive of B's self-improvement plans.
October: Barbara starts both schools. Lots of groovy people to meet from all parts of the world. Feels finally her old self. Stretching mind and body after a long period of low activity is elating. Shares her enthusiasm with Miguel, who volunteers to become a guinea pig for ardho mukha svanasana and prasarita padottanasana. Protests at parivrita trikonasana, but Barbara is uncompromising. Miguel on his way to become a yoga champ. When not doing yoga, Miguel helps mankind by contributing to a European tribune website on economics and politics. Barbara forgets what Miguel's face looks like but memorizes the patterns of all his sweaters. She also develops echolalia as questions directed at Miguel while contributing to mankind fall unheard.
Towards the end of the month Barbara's friend Peggi arrives from Riverside. She too gets to do parivrita trikonasana.
November: The birthday month. Barbara gets an Ipod from Miguel and a four-star lunch in Kensington from Peggi. From Jonathan she gets Crunchies. Peggi leaves for Paris. To his dismay, Miguel turns thirty twelve days later. Laments the purpose of his life and watches broodily for greying temples. Cheers up a bit at his surprise birthday party in a nearby Spanish restaurant (he wasn't expecting to see his mom again so soon) but has a hard time waiting for the cake. Ends up chased by Spanish "musicos" and flaming pastry on his way out of the door. Barbara nearly suffers a heart attack while Miguel's sister dutifully documents the event on camera.
Peggi returns from Paris and cooks a proper Thanksgiving dinner. The fridge is disassembled to accommodate the turkey.
Barbara gets her first interpreting assignments with the local council. Has a near-death experience at a bus stop waiting for 45 minutes at temperatures equal to Czech winter. After defrosting she falls ill. Peggi cooks turkey soup and noodles.
December: Peggi returns back to Riverside after having walked 250 miles around London. Barbara, Miguel and Jonathan are orphaned again. Barbara gets the Christmas bug and Miguel panics at the looming work he might be subjected to. Finds refuge in contributing to mankind.