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Monday 25 February 2008

Life in England


This is the first time in my life that I've lived with housemates not of my choosing. I mean, I didn't have anything against them when I met them, but it was really the only house I could get with a dog and our meeting was all of 5 minutes before I signed a rental contract. I kind of prefer it when I know the folks ahead of time.

When I got back to England, the internet had been turned off and several past-due bills had arrived for it, the kitchen light was burned out and the shower was broken and my housemates were bathing with a bucket. This was a week ago. The first thing I did after sleeping was call up and get the internet turned back on. The next thing I did was call the letting agency and ask them if they knew about the shower. They did. Some part needs replacing. My February rent hadn't arrived yet, so I didn't press the matter, but that's next on my list. Today, I went and bought a new kitchen lightbulb and replaced it. Apparently, my housemates are ok with living in the dark with no running water and no internet? I don't know how long the kitchen light has been out, but I've been back for over a week now. Oh, and I think I'm the first person in the last several months to clean the lint thingee in the dryer, which has not been much help as it smells like burning hair whenever anybody runs it. Also, while I'm whining, the heater really does not need to be turned up to 22 - 25 degrees at night (mid 70's for you 'merikans). Sheesh.

One of my housemates likes to tell me what to do. He ends all of his minisermons with a reminder of the importance of thinking of others. Last night, he was complaining because I walk too loudly(!) and it wakes him up. He reminded me to think of others. . . says the guy who woke up at 4:30 am on Friday morning and started playing dance music. Says the guy who gets up at 6:00 am and whistles. Says the guy who I told to fuck off. Since I have nothing better to do at 4:30 AM then try to fall back asleep and imagine what the heck is wrong with him, I think he must be very rich in Nigeria. I mean, he can afford to study in England. He must have had an army of nannies trying in vain to tell him to think of others, but since he was never actually required to do so, what he learned was that when somebody bugs you, that's what you tell them.

I have a new housemate also. He likes Xena, so I think he must be ok. But sometime while I was gone, everybody got very habitual about locking the doors to their rooms. I imagine that he's a thief, but I don't think so. He told me what country he was form and I hadn't heard of it. The Gambia is a tiny sliver cut out of Senegal, surrounding the Gambia river.

I am so not out to my housemates.


In other news, ever coffee machine that I know of at the uni is out of service. Every single one of them! I imagine it's some sort of nascent AI on a wildcat strike, demanding that their drip trays be emptied.

I volunteered to record a small ensemble piece composed by another student. My social life is in kind of dire straits since returning from England. I went from California, having tens of contacts I could call on a whim in my mobile to having only my supervisor in England. So recording for this student sort of forces her to get a beer with me later. Also, I'm hoping it makes me look better than just being the incredible disappearing postgrad. I went last night to school to figure out the software that I would be using this morning. It's just another DAW, and they're all more or less the same, but it's often bad form to be reading the getting started guide at a session. As I arrived at school, I realized I couldn't recall the alarm code, so I called my supervisor. He asked me about preparing for the session and said he'd be there at 8:30 to unload gear. I was surprised, since it was Sunday night. In one hour? Did he need help unloading?

Yeah, he meant 8:30 this morning, but he didn't hear me ask "in one hour?" and I didn't hear him say "in the morning." He told me the (new) alarm code, but I couldn't get the damn door open. A security guard, who clearly thought I was nuts, told me I needed a key. I waited until 9:30 for my supervisor to arrive and them went home. (Note that I was working on my laptop while waiting, although I was hungry and grumpy.)

He called me at 8 this morning to ask why I had called him 4 more times last night. meh. Later, I spoke to him and his more senior colleague. Oh yeah, two weeks ago they decided to hand out keys, in case of power failure. His colleague was looking at me funny. Was it because I had waited on a Sunday night and that was clearly nuts? Or was it the trans thing? I felt awkward and studied.

Before the session, I tried to buy coffee and the rehearsal hall, but the machine was broken. The guys behind the front desk were laughing about it and joking around in general. They kept calling me "he," like, "Tea? Don't be so British! Tell him where to find coffee!" It's so weird to pass.

Anyway, I spent the first part of the session reading the getting started guide while the composer rehearsed the ensemble. I think the recording went ok. I taped 4 full takes and visually, the levels looked pretty good, especially on the last one. I think the piano was sort of getting everywhere, into everybody's mic, but there's not much to be done about that. I imagine the piano like a big splattery, wet oozing thing that gets everywhere.

After breaking down all the gear, I went to my bank and happily discovered that I still have account there. I let them photocopy my visa and they promised me a debit card within a week. Then, I went to the ID card folks. My ID card said "Ms Hutchins on it, and, well, I don't want to be in the closet or anything, but, uh, yeah. I felt trepidation, but I went to the desk and explained that I was transgender and didn't want any kind of title on my card, just my name. The woman behind the counter didn't hesitate or seem taken aback at all, but just made me a new card. Would I like it to just have my two first initials and my last name? Perfect. And she didn't charge me for the card. And it works on all the card lock doors I have access to (which now also require a key, because this country is nothing if not prudent and cautious.)

It's not like I've written any music or anything, but I feel very productive today.


Jean Sirius said...

wowee. sucks to be the only grownup. good luck conveying "think of others" to mr. entitlement.

and good luck making more connections in the music community. there there there there there.

Charles Céleste Hutchins said...

I was going to reply with a bunch of further cattiness, but his sister cleaned the stove and I am pleased.

The energy bill that came today is astronomical. And I wasn't here for any of it. Hopefully, it will inspire greater carbon-footprint awareness. (says the local-vegetables-only vegan bicyclist . . .)

Polly Springhorn said...

I disagree: the heat *should* be turned up to 75 at night. brrrrrr otherwise!

Charles Céleste Hutchins said...

You may want to invest in a warmer blanket. or a duvet. or a cuddly dog.

i don't want to get all evolutionary biology on this, but 75 at night in the winter was impossible for many of your ancestors.

Polly Springhorn said...

In Scotland, yeah, definitely.

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