Rain

 
Since the last post I have gotten two more jobs, and Cesia and I have booked our wedding venue. When it first occurred to us that getting married in Mexico would allow us to have an outdoor wedding, outdoors is the only way I’ve been able to picture it.
 
We went to the venue and looked around and Cesia asked several questions and looked at a bunch of papers. I took photos of the garden, set up with round tables and hanging lanterns, and the dance floor against a backdrop of green mountains and a blue sky. It was perfect.
 
We had a date in mind, in October, but it was already booked. We could gamble and choose a date earlier than we had planned, but in September the weather would be a few degrees closer to uncomfortable, and the chance of rain would increase to about 20%. You can take the man out of the UK but you can’t take the UK out of the man. 20% was too much. And it would mean less time to organise everything, and for my family to make travel arrangements and book time off work. We wanted that venue, but moving the wedding three weeks earlier seemed like a bad idea.
 
I was trying to convince myself that the 80% chance of no rain would be enough to give me confidence. I didn’t want to pretend like I knew more about Mexican weather than Cesia, and she was excited about the wedding being sooner. I couldn’t let it appear as though I wanted to push it back out of nerves or doubts about us, but I also didn’t want to be the one to disappoint her. It was as though she was throwing a parade and I was somehow going to cause it to be rained on. If only there was a fitting metaphor for the situation.
 
She spoke to her mum who came up with a good idea; ask for a different day in October. In Mexico, weddings take place on a Friday or Saturday, but that doesn’t matter to us. My family will be flying in from England. A weekday wedding won’t make a difference, and it’s still far enough in advance that Cesia’s relatives can make any arrangements they need to. We picked a day in October near to the first date we wanted. It was available so we paid a deposit and started picking our decorations and discussing the menu
 
Today it was Father’s Day and my family sat in my parent’s back garden and enjoyed the sun. It was 30 degrees in England. I spoke to them on the phone and they bragged about the sunshine. Later on I sent them a screenshot of my phone’s weather app. It said it was 40 degrees, and moderate.
 
I’m looking forward to the September rain.
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Mexicans are amazing. No wonder Donald Trump asks them to make a lot of his merchandise. I need a job while I’m here and I don’t speak Spanish so I’m pretty limited on what I can do and how I can find work. most job postings are in Spanish and google translate is not the most reliable resource so I was starting to worry about how I’m going to figure this out.

As a long shot I searched for English Monterrey on Facebook and found a group for teachers of English in my city. I joined the group and posted this:

Hello/hola,

I’m new to Monterrey, from England, and I’m hoping to start teaching independently. I want to teach individual students but I’m having trouble connecting with people that want to learn. Can anyone here give me any advice, or pass on my details to people they know who could help. I’m a native speaker with a degree in English. Sorry if this seems like spam.

I included my email address and then forgot about it. I probably started watching Bob’s Burgers and making a quesadilla. But then my phone exploded! And no, it’s not a Note 7. I got emails, Facebook messages, friend requests, messages from a creep with an English fetish, likes, and comments with advice and email addresses asking for my CV. Later that day I taught my first English lesson over Skype, and the next day I interviewed for a regular teaching job. I’ve had two more interviews and have more scheduled for next week.

It was the most response I’ve received to a Facebook post since 2010 when I got over 100 comments arguing about my status, “Fact of the day: penicillin is made from pencils.”

It took one Facebook post and those listless, lazy, drug smuggling gangbangers found me a job in less than 24 hours.

Gracias, amigos.

 

Also, this has nothing to do with this post, but the picture is the view from our bedroom.

Finishing University

Yesterday I handed in my final two assignments. This means I am finished with university forever, or until I do a Masters, which I’d like to. To celebrate, Cesia bought me a bottle of Cruxland Gin that I’ve been wanting to try, and we drank it while eating bread and olives and sundried tomatoes.

I’m not going to reminisce and wax lyrical about the university experience – in the next few weeks there will be a million student bloggers that will do that for me – I just want to talk about my last semester because It was a little weird, but I’m proud of it.

I did two modules: Writing the Novel, and the Independent Study Module. Writing the Novel is similar to other classes in that we had weekly seminars and regular tasks to complete. We had frequent contact with our teacher who gave feedback on the work we were doing for our final submission. The Independent Study Module (ISM) was very different. No classes, you design your own assignment, and contact with a teacher only happens if and when you arrange it. For the ISM I wrote a 30 minute film and an essay on genre, and for Writing the Novel, I wrote the first 5,000 words of a novel, a synopsis of the entire plot, and an essay on why people should think my novel is good.

These are two quite big assignments. And they have the same deadline so it’s a lot of work all leading to one day. And they are both creative rather than traditionally academic. It is for these reasons that the university didn’t allow me to do these subjects simultaneously until I had an argument with a faculty member.

This was about a year ago and I had decided which modules I wanted to do and simply needed the university to sign off on them. They had a couple of students ask to do Writing the Novel and the ISM concurrently and had turned them down, recommending other modules that might suit their interests. This is what happened to me but when they turned me down, I turned them down harder.

They explained that the amount of work involved in the two modules is too much, and the independence of the ISM can be a stumbling block for many students. I said I can handle it. Their worst argument though, and I still find it incredible that I was offered this as a legitimate reason for why I couldn’t do the subjects I wanted to, was that, “historically, they have never taught Writing the Novel and the ISM concurrently.” That is a terrible reason not to do something. Historically, I’ve never ran a marathon. Historically, minorities have been oppressed. Historically, people died of polio.

I reminded them that the year I would be taking these modules would only be the second year the university had taught Writing the Novel so, historically, it was impossible to do both. Historically, the university didn’t teach them, which means that the historical argument is at best nonsensical, and at worst hypocritical.

I explained my point of view, and then offered to be an experiment; let me do this, and if I fail, you can point to me as a reason that you don’t allow future students to do the subjects concurrently. I was allowed to do both modules.

I then decided to neglect one of my other modules. Literature and Psychology, an interesting subject but sadly, it was far too academic. I knew that, of the four grades that are averaged to decide my degree, this would not be one of them. So instead of struggling over an essay I found tedious that wouldn’t count towards anything, I did the absolute least needed to pass, and instead focused on a script I would later submit as the ISM, and a novel extract that would become my Writing the Novel assignment.

It’s a risky technique. I got a bad grade for a smaller assignment involved in the ISM. In fact, I had messed up enough that it was only a few marks over my Literature and Psychology grade that I had ignored. It meant I couldn’t make any more mistakes.

I worked hard. I made notes in my phone as soon as they cam to me. I scribbled things on the back of receipts and napkins. I took notebooks to my job so I could work when it was quiet, and I edited and edited and edited until I knew it was the best I could do. Then I sent it to my friend Alex who graduated from the same course last year. I worked his feedback into my project and sent it to him again. I sent it to my teacher and repeated the process over and over. Regardless of what grade I get (I have to wait about five weeks to find out) I’m sure I did everything I could.

When I saw the low grade I got on that small ISM assignment, I was surprised. I read the feedback and understood where I had gone wrong, but, like I say, I was surprised. I won’t get any more feedback until I know what my degree grade will be, so, if I have made another mistake, I have to wait about five weeks to find out. It’s already too late to do anything.

At work yesterday I booked two days off. At the moment I only work two days a week, I have done more, six days a week for months, but right now I only do two.

We expected it to be busy because of the Grand National, an EDL march, a football match, and the fact that the sun was out meant that a lot of people would be travelling. For some reason it was dead.

James and I spent the shift listening to music and hanging out. We talked about me leaving and I figured out that, for me to have enough time to do what I need to before I go I should hand in my notice on the 26th April. Two weeks after that I’ll work my last shift. Two weeks after that I’ll leave the country.

I’ve been working here for about three years. I moved out of my parents’ and into Birmingham. I had some money saved up, enough to pay for a tiny room and a few tins of baked beans, but I needed a job. After a couple of months of applications and not hearing anything back, I took the first job I was offered. It was a night job, working alone, cleaning, and making food, a little customer service was involved.

Two years later I had a flat, some money saved up, and near suicidal depression. Night shifts, among other things, were killing me. In winter I wouldn’t see the sun for weeks. I couldn’t sleep. I asked to switch to days.

In the day I could talk to people. I started exercising and eating healthier foods. I stopped drinking a bottle of wine every morning. I don’t think I was alcoholic, I think I was bored.

If you’ve ever dealt with depression in any serious way you’ll know that there are books of insights and statistics about it. Then there are hours of debates worth having about those books. I’m not going to do that here. Suffice to say that medication helped and so did Netflix, and so did exercise, and so did talking to people. Not therapists; my therapist was useless, but talking about my day with Cesia, or a friend or family member helped me unwind or put things in perspective or something. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.

I went to the gym earlier today and the sun is shining so I’ll go for a walk later. I’ll have Cesia with me and we’ll talk about our days and our plans. I’ll probably try to speak Spanish. I’m lucky to be able to say that depression is only a memory.

In a few weeks I get to say goodbye to the job that nearly killed me. I’m excited to go to Mexico but I’m realising I’m excited to leave England too. Excited to say goodbye to my job and my city and the weather that is, at best, unreliable. All of those are minor details compared to what I’m going towards; a new country, and new culture, a new language. A wife and in-laws and maybe the start of a career. The sun is shining outside my window, but it’s shining brighter in Mexico.