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How will you go - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
How will you go
We've been in Oxford for just over a month now, so it's probably time for an update...

Our four-bedroom flat is pretty good. We've unpacked a lot more than I thought we would have done by this time, and even the rooms which are still full of boxes are already in the shape that we want them to be in, with furniture in (more or less) the right places. And it looks like there's going to be room to have all our books out on the shelves! (Okay, when I say all our books, I'm not counting the thousands which are still lodging with our respective parents.) We don't yet have a wardrobe, and after one too many arguments over the unbearable crapness of IKEA I really can't face another journey through flatpack hell, so instead I'm going to try to buy one on eBay.

We're more or less getting used to being woken up at 6am every day by Iceland (the loading bay is just across the carpark from our bedroom window), but there are lots more positive sides to living in a shopping precinct: the Co-op is a minute's walk from the front door, the newsagent is underneath us (we haven't yet gone downstairs in dressing-gowns to get the Sunday papers, but I fear it's only a matter of time), there are lots of other useful local shops around, and about 8 different bus services go into town from the stop outside our front door.

It's about a 20-25 minute cycle into work, but that's in the dark & rain, and with a pulled muscle in my chest from all the coughing when I was ill; it shouldn't take more than 15 minutes in the summer. Parking the bike at home is something of a problem, though -- my front wheel got stomped while I had the bike chained to a drainpipe in the residents' carpark, so I'm now keeping the bike in the shared hallway, which would be okay except that it's jostling for space with the overspill from the newsagents (usually several large piles of newspapers to be returned, and loads of boxes of Maltesers), and I don't know how we're going to fit two bikes in there when addedentry starts cycling again, in the new year. Maybe we'll just have to take it in turns to play Russian Roulette with the bike-stomping bastards. Or set up a web-cam and motion-activated air-rifle on the back balcony.

My new job -- yes, the whole reason we moved here, my fault -- isn't going as well as I'd hoped. It's the first time I've been in a job where my line manager isn't doing roughly the same job as me and there's nobody to show me what to do; I should be just carving a niche for myself but it's hard to do when I don't feel anywhere near as involved in the business of the organisation as I did in university admin; and we're somewhat in limbo as we're preparing to move the website to a new server and into a new all-singing all-dancing CMS, which means I'm working on a website which is broken in various ways but which I'm not supposed to be developing because that would be a waste of time. All in all I'm finding it very hard to pick up the threads of what I'm supposed to be doing (and being off ill for a week really didn't help) and at the moment I'm mostly oscillating between "I don't know how to do this job" and "I don't know if I want to do this job," which occasionally tips over into "I will be quite relieved actually when at the end of my year's probation (if not before) they tell me that it was all a big mistake." Yes, I've tried talking to them. It's not them, it's me.

Fortunately, while I'm slowly slipping into a career coma, addedentry's going from strength to strength; he was snapped up by the National Trust for some interesting freelance cataloguing work, which neatly filled the gap between leaving Cambridge and starting the job which the Bodleian created especially for him. He's also been invited to write cryptic crosswords for Oxford Today, which won't bring in any extra cash, but will hopefully bring the sort of fame and fortune that means people buy him drinks.

It's been strange for me to go so suddenly from the packed schedule of orchestra rehearsals, choir rehearsals, volunteering, and socialising that I had in Cambridge to a life where I mostly don't do anything except go to work, come home, re-read some Chalet School books, and go to sleep. We have managed to meet up with a few friends, which has been great -- and of course we've got each other! -- but I do feel quite lost and directionless. I'm not sure if it makes it better or worse that I already know the city. On the plus side, I don't have to learn my way around a new place on top of all the other stress; but I feel as though the city, with all its dreams and memories, wants something more of me than just miserably slipping into tired middle-age. I feel as though I should be doing something, but I can't remember how, and I can't really see the point. (This is traditionally the moment when everybody says "Write a novel!" ... and then I have to kill them. I wrote a handful of poems when I was a teenager, and ever since then everybody I know has been hassling me to write books. I don't have anything to write. I don't have anything to say. Sorry.)

In other 'not doing things' news, I haven't kept most of my new year's resolutions from last year, I haven't sent any Christmas cards yet, I haven't bought the Christmas presents I wanted to buy for my family and friends, and I'm so behind with email that I just want to give up on the whole communication thing.

Do I miss Cambridge? I don't really miss it as a place, but I miss a lot of things about the life I'd built up there. I thought I'd be able to transplant most of them here, but it's harder than it looks; I know the grass may only be greener back there because it's had longer to grow, but I feel as though it's a big scratchy grey patch of land that I've acquired here and I currently don't have much confidence that the things I've planted will take root.

I guess we'll just have to see what the spring brings. Lilacs, maybe.
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emperor From: emperor Date: December 13th, 2006 11:44 am (UTC) (Link)
I know what you mean about having nothing to do in a new city; at least we have Guitar Hero now :-)

I'm hoping in the new year to start finding things to do again (there is a climbing wall on campus, for example), but it'll take time.
beingjdc From: beingjdc Date: December 13th, 2006 11:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I feel as though I should be doing something, but I can't remember how, and I can't really see the point. (This is traditionally the moment when everybody says "Write a novel!" ... and then I have to kill them.

Oh well then, get a cat!

Must come up to Oxford sometime. It's on the list.
j4 From: j4 Date: December 13th, 2006 11:53 am (UTC) (Link)
No pets allowed in the flat...

Do come to Oxford, though!
beingjdc From: beingjdc Date: December 13th, 2006 11:58 am (UTC) (Link)
No pet clauses are illegal, though I grant you that's my interpretation of the regulations, and there hasn't been a test case yet. You could just have a very furry baby and teach it to go meow.

I owe my young lady a weekend in Oxford, but also in lots of other places, and she has some exams over Winter and early Spring, and I imagine will have ditched me by Summer. Combine that with DJing every Saturday night, and you see why I have not been to Oxford in so long.
barnacle From: barnacle Date: December 13th, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
You could just have a very furry baby and teach it to go meow.

I can't help but feel that's the wrong way round to be doing it.

... Hey, j4: you could get a duck and staple baby-hands to it! We've talked about it and, goh, even joked about it... but now could be the perfect moment.... I'll ask my contacts in the furnace room at the JR and we'll take it from there.

j4 From: j4 Date: December 13th, 2006 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah! Baby hands!

I should be so ducky

Fly, my pretties!
j4 From: j4 Date: December 13th, 2006 03:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Uh? How are they illegal? Are no-smoking clauses also illegal? (If so, please don't tell anybody; I like being able to rent houses that don't smell like ashtrays!)

I mean, to be honest, I suspect in practice the landlady wouldn't know or care if we kept a cat. But I'm not sure how we'd let a cat in and out of a first-floor flat anyway. And it might not like next door's dog...

And then there's the expense. Argh. :-(

Anyway, I do hope your young lady doesn't ditch you, and we do intend to come to Feeling Gloomy at some point (hey, is there a New Year Gloomy?) so hopefully we will see you sooner or later even if you (singular or plural) don't make it to Oxford. (NB Oxford is not far from London! You can get there on a weeknight!)
beingjdc From: beingjdc Date: December 13th, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
There is a New Year Gloomy, though it's £15. It does go on until 5am though, bargain. It's at some plush West End joint, not our usual dive. Now, no-pet clauses and no-smoking clauses. It's not clear; in September last year the Office of Fair Trading issued new guidance on unfair terms in
tenancy agreements. This includes the term 'keeping pets':

"Our objection is to blanket exclusions of pets without consideration of all the circumstances. Such a term has been
considered unfair under comparable legislation in another EU member state
because it could prevent a tenant keeping a goldfish. We are unlikely to object to a term prohibiting the keeping of pets that could
harm the property, affect subsequent tenants or be a nuisance to other residents."


So clearly 'no dogs' is fair enough, and 'no goldfish' is not. A cat is somewhere inbetween, I'd say.

She'll ditch me eventually, just if I'm lucky it won't be soon. At the moment I can't face Oxford on a weeknight, just the added hassle of getting from Victoria to my flat makes it a little bit too much, but I'm sure eventually something will be sufficiently tempting! It's mainly the weather, I didn't mind doing it in Summer.
j4 From: j4 Date: December 15th, 2006 06:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for explaining the pets thing!

Re Gloomy, do you know what the drinks prices are going to be like at this new "plush" venue? We're currently dithering between Gloomy and B-Movie, and we'd like to go to Gloomy, and the venue sounds nice (as opposed to the Rats which as you know is a dive, but kind of a nice dive, with cheap drinks), but Gloomy tickets are more expensive, which isn't a problem if drinks are going to be affordable, but, you know, you see the dilemma.

*faff* *dither*

And of course it's increasingly likely that *both* will be sold out, thus making the decision for us... :-/
beingjdc From: beingjdc Date: December 16th, 2006 10:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Dunno! I bet they're expensive, our usual venue is. I'll see what I can find out.
taimatsu From: taimatsu Date: December 13th, 2006 11:57 am (UTC) (Link)
It all sounds very dark and wintery. Perhaps, as you say, spring will bring changes and improvements. May I come to see you in January?
j4 From: j4 Date: December 13th, 2006 03:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yesyesplease! You are always welcome. BTW we will hopefully be having a housewarming-type-thing towards the end of January (in fact I'd better pick a date soon or everybody will be all booked up!) but please do come and visit separately from that as well if you can because it'd be lovely to see you toute seule. (Or of course if you want to bring partners/friends/kittens/etc for a jaunt to Oxford then that's fine too!)
taimatsu From: taimatsu Date: December 13th, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can and I will! I will work out what my movements are after New Year and then prod you. :)
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: December 13th, 2006 11:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Rehearsals - we're in the same place again tonight, with the actual MD (who is lovely and makes people behave). Last week was really not representative of what goes on normally (the thing next week threw everything into disarray, and after New Year it will all be much smoother). Tonight it's Handel and carols. Three hours (6.30-9.30!), and we've got to go to Witney afterwards so a lift is not only available but positively thrust upon you. If you want it. :)

j4 From: j4 Date: December 13th, 2006 12:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was going to email you about tonight -- what's the best address for you these days? (If you don't want to put it on teh interwebs, email me at janetmck at chiark...)
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: December 13th, 2006 01:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
bopeepsheep at livejournal dot com redirects (as do some of my older ones including firstname.lastname at ntlworld) so it's the easiest one to grab.
ewtikins From: ewtikins Date: December 13th, 2006 12:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
My experience of moving is that it takes at least a year to really feel 'at home' in a new city, even if I've been there (lived there, even!) before.

You didn't build your life in Cambridge overnight; it will take you a while to build one in Oxford. In the meantime, hibernation is not necessarily all bad.
brrm From: brrm Date: December 13th, 2006 12:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
that means people buy him drinks.

Tell you what, I'll buy you a drink! :-)
j4 From: j4 Date: December 13th, 2006 12:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
That reminds me: I would like at some point (probably in the new year now) to do a wifi pub-crawl, or rather pub-and-cafe-crawl, testing out all the alleged hotspots in town. My list so far is the stuff on openguides plus the George on Botley Road (advertises free wifi outside) and the Fishes in North Hinksey (as found on jiwire). Would you and your shiny powerbook be up for it? :)
brrm From: brrm Date: December 13th, 2006 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Would you and your shiny powerbook be up for it?

YKIMK!

But seriously, why not? :)
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: December 13th, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Happy Badgermas!

Don't do it! It's not safe!! You'll get brain-fire!!!

Sorry - and (I suspect) like you, surprised - to hear that Oxford isn't suiting as well as logic would suggest. Seems to me like you can expect some sort of useful change once the web site moves and you can actually get down to the business of making things better.

If we lived anywhere near anyone else then we would certainly come and see you for good cheer. My gut reaction is that you (pl., probably) could probably go and become one of those eminences grises whose company we all used to enjoy in our university society days, but perhaps you've moved on from that - and perhaps I might find that I had too were I in your position?
hatmandu From: hatmandu Date: December 13th, 2006 12:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Must remember to invite you along to our various pub quiz jaunts, if you're interested (though they're over for this year now). You and Owen would perhaps straddle the two camps of pop culture/music buffs (the others) and obscure high culture buffs (Henry and me). I'm going to be compiling cryptic crosswords soon too...
j4 From: j4 Date: December 13th, 2006 12:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sounds like fun! I suspect I wouldn't so much straddle the two camps as fall between two (bar)stools, since I have no areas of specialist knowledge and only very rusty general knowledge; but Owen knows everything, and as such is very good at pub quizzes.
julietk From: julietk Date: December 13th, 2006 01:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
It is Winter & therefore hibernation is IMO more or less unavoidable. My hours at work are I suspect *way* down just because I'm so unutterably rubbish at getting out of bed at this time of year :-( Anyway: point is, in some ways a non-ideal time to be moving, because moving is upheaval & discombobulating, & the *darkness* of this time of year is energy-sapping, so the two things together add up to life becoming more difficult to deal with.

Bikes: is there any wall-space you might be able to convince the landlord to allow you to install bike-holding devices on? (We have ours hanging vertically in the niche bit of the hallway, which works OK, though a Rethink is needed as currently there are only 2 hooks & the Cheviot has therefore evicted P's bike to the balcony) The hooks we have, you could take down & Polyfilla the holes & paint over it & it wouldn't be a disastrous & permanent change to the blah. (i.e. landlord might go for it if you offer to make good before leaving).

FWIW, my Dad has always told me that it should take 3-6 months to feel comfortable in a new job (less than that & it prob will be v boring far too quickly; more & you might not be in the best place for you).

Lilacs! Maybe we should put lilacs in the allotment. Have baby rhubarb leaf icon instead, as symbol of spring-to-come :-)
oldbloke From: oldbloke Date: December 13th, 2006 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
If there's a place that does pine around, you may be able to get semi or fully custom built wardrobe(s) at a not too silly price.
My ex has some very nice hand-built bookcases, for example.
aardvark179 From: aardvark179 Date: December 13th, 2006 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
If there's a place that does pine around

I got completely the wrong sense of, "does pine around," the first two times I read that. and now I think there really should be a Scandinavian furniture shop called Norwegian Blue, with a slogan Pine from Fjords.
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: December 13th, 2006 04:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Tired youth, tired middle age, tied old folk except they seem in some waysto be less tired.

It's not easy, moving, but you'll find your feet. There will be plots of Chrimbley lights up on Cumnor hill to look at, and Tilbury Farm and Whytham hill, and museums, and so on. All will be well and all manner of things shall be well.
ms_saffie From: ms_saffie Date: December 13th, 2006 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, we're not very far away, and I'd love to see you again. I know the feeling of "work, eat, sleep" at the moment. Dinner/pub/both?
nja From: nja Date: December 13th, 2006 07:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd be up (or down, or whatever the direction is) for the housewarming almost any time. Text me if you're around the Bristle Areal over Christmas.
jvvw From: jvvw Date: December 13th, 2006 10:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've always hated the first six months or so in a new place - it's really lonely. It's always got better though, and I've done it just about enough times now that I was braced for it last time which helped lost.
hairyears From: hairyears Date: December 18th, 2006 01:20 am (UTC) (Link)

I saw this and thought of you.


In other news, I'll be in Oxfnord for the masqued ball on Friday Jan 26th. I have no other free weekends in January!
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