I haven't been blogging since I was back in the States -- as it happened I was swamped with running back and forth between Austin and New Orleans (and everything in between).  Trying to see everyone and do everything, and train for a race.  And then I returned to England in late March and 10 days later had our first of what is to be a lot of guests over the next six months. And I've been working on my dissertation.  And when I write a lot for my 'work' life, my recreational writing suffers.

The other thing that I've noticed about myself is that writing is a catharsis...so I write when I *need* to say something because internally I can't process it, and it's stuck in a loop in my brain.  Spilling it out on (figurative) paper, is my way of processing something externally when I just can't make it happen with my internal tools.  So, a lot of my early writing on this blog was me trying to work through what it meant to move and adjust to England.  And now that I'm moved, and fairly adjusted, I don't feel as compelled to write anymore, because I'm not struggling nearly as much.

But, that doesn't mean I'm giving up on the blog, it just means it will be more sporadic. 

Last night a group of 10 of us went to dinner and I was chatting with one of my pals (we'll call her Jackie) who is dating a lovely and hilarious Scotsman (we'll call him Ian).  Jackie was telling me a story -- that one of their friends (a North American...not sure if this woman was American or Canadian) went on a rant for over an hour about how much she hated living the UK.  Now, Ian is the quietest, most mild mannered guy in the world, so the fact that he would ever say anything means that this woman had WAY overdone her raging about life in the UK.  Finally after having heard enough bashing about his home country he said "If you hate it so much, go home".

Interestingly enough, I said those very words to a couple of Canadians whom I knew 10 years ago who were friends of my Canadian.  They spent an hour telling me how evil the United States was, and how it made them sick to live here "to be a cog in this evil machine" as they put it...ironically then telling me how they could never make this much money back in Canada and how there just weren't jobs in their field and how beautiful it was in Austin and how amazing the people and the food was.

As someone who taught political science for five years I can stand in the middle of a political discussion with a pretty level head, advocate for both sides of any story and see both sides pretty easily.  In fact, I've been accused of sometimes being a fence sitter when people really want me to take a stand on an issue that has two vehemently opposing sides.  But that was my job, to present to my students an impartial and unbiased look at politics (at least as much as possible).  My point is, I can take a LOT of bashing about the U.S., because I see where people are coming from, and many of the points that they make, I agree with.

But. You can only call my people evil so many times without me finally saying "If it's so bad, then seriously, go home".  I was born in the U.S. and a lot my friends and family are Americans.  And to judge a country by the politicians that run for office (and make our laws) is a gross over simplification of a country.  God knows, I don't think Italians are as morally bankrupt as Berlusconi.  And I sure as hell never thought Iraqis were anything like Saddam Hussein. 

Running for office, in America, is a self-selecting position, and people who self-select are generally characterized by some amount of narcissism, power-hunger, and a moral compass that might be non-existent.  We can't always help who runs for office and most of us believe we're voting (however we vote) for the lesser of two evils -- and hope we're right.

Now, wrapping this back around to where I was originally going; I've been trying really hard to not UK bash these days.  Because (I tell myself) if I hate it so much, then I just need to leave.  And I really don't hate it -- not at all.  In fact, going back to my original story, after Jackie told her story about this ranting girl I heard myself say "You know, I think I'm 60/40 in favor of the UK!".  If you'd asked me a year ago, I would have said it the other way around. I like it 20% more than I did when I first moved here...and that's kind of cool.  I'm glad it's growing on me.

In all honesty, however, it's easier for me to find things wrong with London than the UK as a whole.  In fact, when I'm out of London, I really love this country.  The Canadian and I recently hiked the West Highland Way and the people who were the friendliest kindest people on the trek, who always had a nice word, or would stop and talk to us or lend us a hand when we needed it were the Scots.  They so reminded me of Texans -- genuinely warm and friendly.

I've started noticing lately when looking up a hotel or restaurant on Tripadvisor and I see a place with excellent reviews, and then one bad one, almost inevitably it's a Londoner.  And I think being surrounded by so much negative energy drags down my general love of the UK.  I can't tell you how many people on the West Highland Way told us (when we told them we lived in London) that, "if you died in London, people would just step over you".  So, at least I'm not alone in my sentiment of being frustrated with this city.

All of that said, I'm continuing to try and find the really great things about London.  And I'm not really struggling with adjustment anymore.  Which is the really long way of saying, that's why I haven't needed to blog as much, because I'm past the part where I needed to blog in order to get my emotions somewhere other than inside me.  Which is a good thing.
5/20/2012 11:38:35 pm

I couldn't have said it better myself, because I couldn't have written this as well as you did !!

I loved this.

6/7/2012 08:48:27 am

Welcome back to blogging! And the rain, apparently. Friends tell me that I missed the lovely weather. We got back on Tuesday, in time for the wet and the grey.
Anyway, this post reminds me of a few things. First, expat sentiments tend to go in cycles or waves. We keep hitting walls of "enough!" and then redouble efforts to embrace our host culture. Second, I have to remember that London is not England. The rudeness I wrote about today would not happen in Devon. But if you died on the street, I've no doubt that a bunch of Londoners would just step over you. Sad but true.


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