expat

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cities & views

Fri, 04/08/2011 - 21:00 -- Bee

London is a city largely without a view: there are very few hills, fewer tall buildings for the wandering public to ascend, and the river is bereft of commuter traffic.

For a person like me, who grew up on a peninsula between two mountain ranges, hiking up and down steep hills for even the smallest routine chores, using ferry boats as regular transportation, this is rather odd.

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immigration, mobility, hypocrisy

Wed, 04/06/2011 - 21:00 -- Bee

The UK Government has announced a new social mobility strategy.

Nick Clegg, David Cameron and pals have made public statements condemning the "who you know" culture that gives preferential access to educational opportunities and jobs based on social connections. They say that under this government everyone should get a "fair chance."

The initiative is fascinating, not least because Clegg, Cameron, Osborne and associates were all privately and expensively educated. They are, one and all, people who obtained internships and career placements through family connections.

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literature & immigration

Tue, 04/05/2011 - 12:08 -- Bee

When I am not working or seeing friends I walk around London, for hours and miles every day, listening to recordings of Nancy Mitford books.

It is absolutely true that I moved away from the United States because I wanted to live in a place where everyone has equal access to health care. But why England, specifically, when I could have chosen any country in Europe?

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temptation, community, introductions

Sun, 04/03/2011 - 21:00 -- Bee

Aside from Anika visitors this week include Marcus (Sweden, France, SF, though you might remember him from Las Vegas escapades if this journal goes back that far), Andrey (encountered most recently in Austin TX but more frequently seen in Saarbrucken), Andreas (stumbled across him in Santa Barbara in January, normally found in various European capital cities), and

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sentimental & specious

Sat, 04/02/2011 - 21:00 -- Bee

I have two children. I have two passports. Clearly, I should therefore get two Mother's Days.... right?

My daughter agreed but had to rush away for the weekend, telling her brother it was his turn to take care of the holiday. He however maintains that the prevalence of celebratory days cancel each other out, and thus, I do not deserve any attention at all.

Heavy sigh!

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parents, protectors, punk

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 21:00 -- Bee

So the First Official Houseguest was. . . drum roll please. . . Stella!

The punk ethos is largely anti-heroic and as such does a disservice to pioneers and progenitors. We all want to pretend that we are self-invented, lawless, new. But we all have parents and protectors, we all need a place to start. Even if our work is about ripping it all up and starting again.

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domesticity & white towels

Mon, 03/07/2011 - 21:00 -- Bee

I surfaced from multiple conflicting deadlines long enough to prepare for the First Official Houseguest and noticed that I'm not responsible enough to own white towels.

These goods were purchased from Heal's when I moved in to the flat last September. I had never before owned quality towelling and couldn't have known what to expect, but I did anticipate they would remain dazzling and fluffy longer than five months. Especially since I was away for two of those months.

They are not tattered or dirty, they are just. . . vaguely not quite white.

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food & friendly people

Wed, 02/23/2011 - 21:00 -- Bee

The entire staff of the local posh food store greets me by name (first and last) although I have been there merely half a dozen times.

I suspect they are being "friendly." I find the experience "alarming."

This is partly cultural: customer service in England is sparse, to say the least, and in Cambridge you could describe shop clerks as antagonistic. The folks at Bacchanalia and the farm store were the only amiable people I encountered on a daily basis, but they certainly never knew my name. Or at least, they didn't use it.

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banks, ethics, taxes

Tue, 02/22/2011 - 21:00 -- Bee

Like certain multinational banks, I have "complex tax issues."

Unlike certain multinational banks, I "pay taxes."

I'm an American citizen by birth and British by residency, and as such am compelled to pay national taxes in each country. Since I own properties and work in both places, I also pay local tax in whichever borough, county, or constituency I fetch up in.

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stereotypes, reputations, simplicity

Sat, 02/19/2011 - 21:00 -- Bee

Six years of life in Europe has served one main purpose: to convince me that national stereotypes and historical reputations are deserved.

Certainly not all - and generally not the worst of those available - and of course individual people have an array of personal idiosyncrasies. But very general points like England has shoddy housing are more accurate than I could have believed possible.

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