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Monday, August 27, 2007 


I apologize, dear readers, for such scant writing this past month. I think I'm finally ready to admit that I'm in a moderate mode of depression, and that state of mind is not conducive to creatively writing cheerful quips about the very great city I live in. Not to bog you down with my troubles, but essentially my supervisors have decided that despite the fact my three years are now over, my PhD is not finished, and are thus forcing me to extend my time in the lab. This obliges me to turn down a very good job offer and prolong my continuing state of financial ruin, not to mention wonder about how much longer they plan to keep me at their mercy. This is one of the joys of academic life, I've been sarcastically told. There is no HR department, no contracts to sign, no rights whatsoever. They hold the keys to my completion, and so why shouldn't they use that to their advantage? The moral of this story (at least how I'm honestly feeling at the moment, hopefully this will change in the future) is, "never get a PhD."

Enough about that. Since I don't have anything pleasant to add at the moment, and certainly don't want to neglect you, I'll leave a quote from Bill Bryson's most excellent book Notes from a Small Island. This was a Christmas present from my father (thanks Dad) and I've been saving it until the end of my time here, as a way to start the heart-wrenching process of saying goodbye. That moment appears to have been indefinitely postponed since I started the book, alas. But I am still absolutely loving it. Here's his bit about London:

"I can never understand why Londoners fail to see that they live in the most wonderful city in the world. It is, if you ask me, far more beautiful and interesting than Paris and more lively than anywhere but New York--and even New York can't touch it in lots of important ways. It has more history, finer parks, a livelier and more varied press, better theatres, more numerous orchestras and museums, leafier squares, safer streets, and more courteous inhabitants than any other large city in the world.

And it has more congenial small thing--incidental civilities, you might call them--than any other city I know: cheery red mailboxes, drivers who actually stop for you at pedestrian crossings, lovely forgotten churches with wonderful names like St. Andrew by the Wardrobe and St. Giles Cripplegate, sudden pockets of quiet like Lincoln's Inn and Red Lion Square, interesting statues of obscure Victorians in togas, pubs, black cabs, double-decker buses, helpful policemen, polite notices, people who will stop to help you when you fall down or drop your shopping, benches everywhere. What other great city would trouble to put blue plaques on houses to let you know what famous person once lived there, or warn you to look left or right before stepping off the curb? I'll tell you. None."

Hear, hear. I still can't figure out for the life of me why Londoners always seem to dislike London so much, but they universally do. I guess they never see it from the eyes of an outsider and take it for granted. I know now that there certainly are frustrating aspects of residing here for long periods of time, but it's still, hands down, the most awesome city I've ever been to. And the mere thought of that is actually cheering me up a little.

Hey sweety! The blogosphere is not just for happy quippings...we are here to bear witness to when things arent so great too!

vent away, Little Wing!


ya, it's funny though, but you'll miss the hell out london once you leave. it's always when you look back you remember the good parts and forget about the bad. don't worry, you'll get your payback at your tool professors soon enough...in the meantime, i'm sure you have another trip planned anyway to get you back in a good mood!

How about starting a Web 2.0 style networking website called "rate your supervisor"... could save someone an awful lot of heartache in the future.


Bryson has a gift for pointing out the everyday and illustrating how special it is. My favourite?

"...disturbance from cosmic background radiation is something we have all experienced. Tune your television to any channel it doesn't receive, and about 1 percent of the dancing static you see is accounted for by this ancient remnant of the Big Bang. The next time you complain that there is nothing on, remember that you can always watch the birth of the universe."

I've been here for 12 years now, and yes occasionally London annoys me, but I love it despite those annoyances.

Of course this may chnage if Boris gets elected Mayor.

That cheered me up a bit! Funny how things like tube strikes can make you look at the city afresh, knowwhatImean?

Ah, London is only the most awesome city you've ever been to because you've never been to St.Davids.

I really like this post!

Hey, I just found your blog (It was fascinating, I nearly read the whole thing). Sorry about the PhD.. "or warn you to look left or right before stepping off the curb" ha, I love that bit, I thought that was really cute when I was there. I'm interested in studying abroad in London (or elsewhere in the U.K.) so I was actually skimming through that book last week. (He's funny). Anyway, that's intriguing.. (:

Glad you like the Bryson book. I also love how he describes the way the English react so joyfully to the smallest things, like a cup of tea and a piece of cake being brought to their table. "Oh, that's lovely!" or something to that effect.

Chin up, my dear--things will get better. They always do.

Thx for the call-out on the book, baby. I forgot I gave it to you (but then, I forget a lot of things these days . . .)

I still find myself playing editor, though, and can't stop myself from (mildly) chiding you for using "site" when you mean "sight" and "Here, here" when you mean "Hear, hear."

Life is good in Salishan; my studies to become an Oregon Coast Aquarium Guide are about half done (only about six weeks to go and three more tests, plus the final, of course.) Graduation is Nov. 10th. See you in December, and then, again in . . . December.


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