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Moran Abroad

Came to Canada for camp. 25 months on; still here.

Weddings are like mushrooms

When someone asks me how wedding planning is going, and I begin my reply with the words “oh, we’re not…” I can usually see their face fall and their mind race as they assume the wedding’s off and they’ve asked a terribly awkward question. An expression of ‘Oh God how am I going to back away from this conversation quickly’ flashes across their eyes, as they look for the nearest exit.

Not so, my friends, not so.

We are taking a “pause” from wedding planning. And I will now tell you why.

Wedding planning sucks.

Arranging to view locations brought my fiancé and I to the brink of murdering each other. (I mean, he did turn up late for every single one, and on one occasion he completely missed the appointment and went to camp instead, but noone’s here to blame anyone for anything.) Even when we thought we’d selected one, we didn’t have $4000 to lay down as a deposit, no sir.

And who are we inviting, and why is it so many people? And what shall we do about chairs? And should we have fairy lights or not? (The answer to this one is yes, we should, and yes, I am going to continue to call them fairy lights, even though in Canada they’re not called fairy lights, SO THERE.)

As a child, I wanted to be a spy, I think, or a writer, or a zookeeper. I didn’t stare starry eyed at princess dresses and dream of dreamy weddings. If I can be so bold, I would liken my relationship with weddings to my relationship with mushrooms. As a kid I wasn’t interested in them in the slightest, but then, one day for no reason in particular, I decided they were the greatest thing. Those squishy fungi were my life! I must eat the most mushrooms possible. Mushroom overload! And then, at peak mushroom consumption, mushrooms and I were done. No more mushrooms for me, thank you kindly, keep them away, I’ve had enough.

And that is me and weddings now. Despite the fact I didn’t little more than pin stuff on Pinterest and see a few venues and a florist, weddings and I have fallen out, like mushrooms and I all those years ago.

I’m all wedding-ed out (though I’ve done next to nothing), so my “oh, we’re not…” ends with “…planning it any time soon.”

Maybe one day weddings and mushrooms and I will all reconcile, and we’ll have some wild porcini risotto at the reception, and a sautéed version at the brunch. For now, though, I am taking a break from both.

Go with your gut

So, today I turned down a job offer.

WHAT?! you splutter. GASP! In this economy??

Let me explain my reasons.

This morning over a Starbucks (white chocolate mocha, my love for whipped cream is insatiable) my boss enquired as to whether I’d like to step back into the position of Communications Officer when my counterpart goes on maternity leave in January.

I was brought in as her maternity leave in 2012, and with baby number two on the way, there’s a vacant spot at the desk next to mine come the New Year.

Since her announcement a few weeks ago I’d been mulling over the prospect of being asked to take on the role again. How easy it would be! Carry on for another year in the same position with the same people in the same office. Roll gently into another year at the same level doing the same things. Not have to worry about unemployment or financial issues or new jobs or interviews or anything like that…

I’d like, if possible, to call it bravery, not stupidity, that led me to conclude I’d politely decline the offer. The desire for a new challenge, a new possibility, new adventures. The job is, as we Londoners say, cushty, but it’s not pushing me for better things, it’s not sparking my interests or testing my skills. I turn up, do my thing, mill around, drink the bad coffee, send a few emails, and then go home and watch the God awful TV shows I love. (I am actually obsessed with Honey Boo Boo, sorry not sorry.)

My little brother has already chipped in that my decision was silly. Why not take the offer and wait it out until something better comes along? says he. To my mind, there’s no point stringing them along, darting out the door the moment something better comes. But mainly, I just don’t want to.

So, come September 30, I might be penniless and unemployed… but at least I can say I went with my gut.

(Note: When my gut is growling because I can’t afford food, because I cannot find a job, because I live on the streets, I’ll be heard to lament: BUT I WENT WITH YOU! WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!) 

Afternoon limericks

Towards the end of the work day I decided to have a limerick battle with my brother online. Of course.

It began because the opening line of my freshly rewritten CV sounds, to him, like a poem (clear, concise, compelling copy is my speciality/Combine that with technical skill, a flair for creativity). My brother suggested I alter to:

Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
Hire me please,
Please please please please.

Or in a similar vein:

I once knew a girl from the UK,
Who heard you had jobs down your way,
She sent her CV,
To all and sundry,
As she now can’t afford anywhere to stay.

To which I replied, (admittedly not my greatest attempt at poetry):

I once knew a boy called Joe,
Who made many poems, you know?
He’s often quite funny,
And also a bunny,
…I’m not as good at poems as he is.

And also the similarly tenuous:

There once was a lady called Alice-y
Who believed that these pomes were a fallacy
Though she tried to create them
She couldn’t embrace them
And they filled her with nothing but apathy

My brother’s retort (note: I call him Joepez. He doesn’t like it):

The one was a guy called Joepez
Who looked nothing like Missus Lopez
Try as he might
Her pants were too tight
And they cut off his legs’ blood flow-pez.

And also: 

There was once a Ms Moran
Who was, of funny poems, a fan
So her brother wrote lots
With hysterical plots
And nonsense endings. What a flan.

To which I replied (Marion and Dan being our ma and pa):

There once was a family Moran
Who ran just as fast as they can
No, I’m just kidding
We sat and ate pudding
Watching TV with Marion and Dan

And he altered to:

There once was a family Moran
Who ran just as fast as they can
No, I’m just kidding
We sat and ate pudding
Which was, quite of course, Lemon Meringue.

Has a half hour ever been better spent?

I told him he’s quite good at these. And he concluded: 

There once was a compliment said
That went straight to poor Joe’s head
Before you knew it
He had to eschew it
So his prowess at poems was shed.

Fluffy white sun-dappled clouds

“Follow your dreams” say the inspirational jpegs, with their handwritten typography scrawled over fluffy white sun-dappled clouds, or a beach scene with a vintage filter. Those other jpegs, with their multi-coloured balloons and wispy butterflies, say “never let go!” and “you can do anything!” in their looping, curling font. 

I pin them to my Pinterest board, entitled “Pretty Things”, and internally nod along at the sentiment, a little warm glow in my little warm heart. 

A few years ago I was having dinner with a very good friend, at a very expensive restaurant, paid for by a Groupon voucher. “We’ll never be able to afford this,” she conceded early on in our feast, thinking of the lives that lay ahead of us. “The career paths we’ve chosen will never make us so much money we can comfortably eat dinner at Michelin-starred restaurants” (with not one, but two desserts, I might add). 

She was right, of course. We’d both decided to be writers. We’d both abided by the outlook of those fuzzy jpegs and said yes to pursuing our dreams! Believing in ourselves! Doing what we loved! etc. etc. 

I had accepted my fate of never being financially rich with contented good nature. Realistically I was never going to make millions being a writer. Money had never been a motivating factor; I’d have my modest house and my books and my prevailing sense of adventure to keep me swathed in cheerfulness and fulfillment. 

I’m sad to tell it; this noble intention has waned. Those fluffy white sun-dappled clouds have parted to reveal a world of expensive pleasures, in need of supporting funds. Trips to Central America, the entirety of Topshop’s sale rail, oysters twice a week, Tassimo coffee discs, flights to England and pounds to spend there. I like expensive cheese, I lust after expensive handbags, I drink $14 cocktails that disappear with two sips.

Carrie Bradshaw is a myth. Those clothes, those shoes, that apartment, and that job? I have a choice to make; pursuing the dream, or pursuing the lifestyle. 

I guess, as it so often does, a prospective answer comes from a slice of wisdom served up by Jim Carrey. You’ve probably seen the clip; during his commencement address at Maharishi University in Iowa, Jim (who I have adored since 1994) trumps all the jpegs and all the flowery prose and tells the story of his father, who became an accountant instead of pursuing his dream of being a comedian, but then was fired from being an accountant anyway.  

“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love,” he says to a captivated audience.

I think he might be right.

Wedding whoas

This evening I sat down with a thick slice of cake (raspberry loaf - impeccable), paused my American Dad marathon on Netflix, and finally began to browse the two wedding books my recently wed boss has kindly lent for my perusal.

I got engaged in December (at the Four Seasons in Paris, darling) and until this month I’ve done nothing more than whip up a frenzy of pins on Pinterest. Completely incongruous pins, mind you, ranging from an embellished peacock clutch to a mugshot style photoshoot taken with the bridesmaids (both may actually happen.)

Page one, or thereabouts, of the first book informed me straight off that I was running late. Venues and colour schemes and similar should have been picked 12 months prior to the dream date. Our aim is for March 2015; this is the only concrete decision I’ve managed to coax from my fiancé whose adversity to planning knows no bounds. “Do you even want to marry me?” is a phrase that’s been bandied around this month, I will not lie.

Weddings are a bit stressful. My mind fluctuates wildly from over-analysing every precise detail to not giving a single solitary shit what colour the napkins end up. In weddings as in life, I suppose. Today I was looking at chairs. It never occurs to one that not only do you have to hire chairs, at some extortionate rate, but there’s things hanging from the chairs you have to get too. Bits of leafs and ribbon-y stuff. It’s all too overwhelming.

I was going to go full-on traditional and wear my mum’s dress. The reasoning behind this was a combination of custom and convenience. I hate clothes shopping. At Kind Exchange in the Beaches last weekend I nearly burst into tears because I’d tried on four dresses and I looked like a knob in every single one. No hyperbole; I’ve gone out with the express purpose of clothes shopping no more than one and a half times in the past two years. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be with mum’s dress and I, so the dress hunt beginning now in earnest should be drawing to a conclusion in around 10 months time, God willing.

A debate arose as to where to have the wedding. Not as in which venue (that’s a whole other kettle of fish) but which country. British girl marries Canadian boy and where the heck do they do it?

Seeing as we met in Canada, and we live in Canada, it makes a lot of sense for us to tie the knot in Canada. Visiting venues is simplified without the 3500 mile distance. Nonetheless, I’d love to have a party in London, too, I thought to myself. It seems a bit much to ask the fam-a-lam to cruise across the ocean for North American nuptials. So now I’m planning two weddings, it seems; a wedding, and a post-wedding sorry-you-missed-it-but-this-is-a-bit-like-it-anyway. Because one wasn’t enough, I craved more.

Last week I went fully militant on planning venue viewings (this surge of organisation happens sometimes - I’m currently inspired by Chris Hadfield’s book “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth” and he’s a bit of a planner). So I booked in about half a dozen venues for my affianced and I to assess. One problem; my Gmail calendar - unused for many months - is still on Greenwich mean time. Receiving appointments 5 hours earlier than they should be, my betrothed is confused. “Why are you booking these viewings during the day?” says he."What are you talking about?” I bark back, “do you even want to marry me?”

The planning continues.

Why having a dog is so damn great

As a new dog owner, I have to tell you, having a dog is the greatest. It is the greatest. Let me tell you all the best things about having a dog:

  • The happy abandon of material goods; ‘I used to love those shoes,’ you think to yourself, ‘but oh how this sweet, sweet canine has brightened my life, it matters not that the shoes are no more as she’s chewed them to pieces.’ Greek philosopher Democritus said “happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul”. So chew away, my furry friend, chew away.image
  • The chance to see the little known visage of Toronto at 4am, or 5:30am (stone cold sober, mind you), or whenever the dog decides she needs to lick your face and trample on your previously peacefully sleeping body until you arise from the comfortable bed with gusto (or fury).

  • Having a sparklingly clean floor for 90% of the time (the other 10% of the time there being the presence of poop or pee, prompting a far more rigorous and frequent cleaning regime than ever before).image
  • Never having an awkward silence in the elevator again; that once uncomfortable peace is now replaced with repeatedly saying “sorry” as your dog jumps on every single unsuspecting stranger who has the misfortune of entering the elevator with you. “We haven’t quite learned ‘don’t jump’ yet,” you can say, to uproarious laughter.

  • The chance to make new friends with the people you have to fervently apologise to as your dogs muddied paws connect with their torso when she jumps up for an enthusiastic greeting. Isn’t the sort of friend you want to have the sort of person who’s so chilled that a muddy work shirt ain’t no thing but a chicken wing?
  • Entering an entire new culture of the “dog owner” and falling succinctly into one of its subsets; the “big dog owner” who faces a similar struggle as your two dogs zealously pull towards one another, and the “small dog owner” who’s look of terror as your wolf-dog hurtles towards their tiny ball of yelping fur apace is palpable.image

  • The opportunity to take out the garbage more often, as your bundle of joy cannot be left alone with a full garbage bin, lest she chow down on a two-day old burger and countless fuzzy kiwi skins.
  • Your organisational skills are boosted. You know you cannot leave the house without putting your garbage bin and recycle bin in the bathroom so your darling dog can’t feast on its contents in your absence.image
  • Exercise, exercise in abundance. If you thought taking the dog for a walk would be the extent of your exercise, you were mistaken. Lifting the ridiculously heavy bag of food back to the top of the bedroom cupboard because your beloved companion has figured out how to open the drawer it used to be in, and will eat 3 days’ worth of food is just the start. Chasing your dog around the dog park because every time a new dog arrives she tries to bolt out the gate becomes routine. Pushing your dog’s butt off your pillow at any time of the day or night is no big deal. Dogs!image

  • Alongside the exercise you can bet you’re no longer lazy, if you ever were. Snuggly cuddles with your dog will be interrupted consistently by her sneezing in your face (just me?). Watching the TV turns into watching the TV with the clattering sound of a food bowl being repeatedly dropped, or a sloppily saliva-coated ball being dropped into your lap. Think you need 8 hours sleep? Well you don’t! You need 4 hours, then you need a walk, then you need another 2, and then you need to have a dog sit on your sternum.image
  • If you’re squeamish, you’ll likely lose that pretty sharpish. You actually have to use your own hand, protected only by a wafer thin poop bag, to pick up dog poops. Your dog might even be an impish trickster, and pretend she’s finished so you pick it all up – yuck yuck yuck – only to find she’s done it again a mere 3 feet away. “You little rascal!” you might laugh at her, “what japes we have!”

Harrow On The Hill, London, HA0

This photo reminds me of Saturday mornings going to the shopping centre with mum. We’d always pass this road; the school outfitters looks like something from Harry Potter. Harrow schoolboys have to wear boating hats, and sometimes cloaks, which was always entertaining to me. “Look at them!” I’d gasp as they milled around Harrow-on-the-Hill. My dad said when he was younger a Harrow schoolboy spat on his car, so my dad got out and chased him down the street. I have a very vivid motion picture of this scenario in my head. Such a rudeboy.


Harrow On The Hill, London, HA0

This photo reminds me of Saturday mornings going to the shopping centre with mum. We’d always pass this road; the school outfitters looks like something from Harry Potter. Harrow schoolboys have to wear boating hats, and sometimes cloaks, which was always entertaining to me. “Look at them!” I’d gasp as they milled around Harrow-on-the-Hill. My dad said when he was younger a Harrow schoolboy spat on his car, so my dad got out and chased him down the street. I have a very vivid motion picture of this scenario in my head. Such a rudeboy.

(via lheartlondon)

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