Thoughts About London… and A Guy

In September I head to London to do my Masters degree but I’m really nervous about going. I don’t know if it’s the right decision. Already in life, I’ve made so many mistakes – I can’t afford to make more! Unfortunately we don’t always know what the right path is. Life doesn’t necessarily give us a clue, there aren’t always big, glowing “right way!” signs to stop us making stupid, irreversible mistakes.

I’ve always wanted to live in London – not forever, just long enough to say I was there. And this year is really my only opportunity to do that… I just worry. Because I have limited finances, I’m technically going to be homeless in the big city. But really that would apply anywhere. And I can’t stay where I am now, that’s not an option. I have to move somewhere, it may as well be London.

But I worry…
What if I fail my Masters course and end up financially and emotionally broke with nothing to show for it?

What if I hate the basic accommodation I’m gonna be sharing with 50 other people and I go insane?

What if I don’t make any friends and remain lonely?

What if I can’t find work to find around my studies?

What if I burn out from trying to work and study?

What if this path eventually leads me to being a broke, old, crazy cat lady who lives in a shed and tells people “That was the moment I ruined my life!”?megcrying:gulp:

What if I never meet anyone like… him… again?

I threw away a sort of great beginning with a guy to do this move. Now, to be honest, I have no idea what his long-term plans were and whether they involved me. He was really sketchy about things – which is probably a clue that no, I was not a part of his plans. But I wish I hadn’t dropped the “moving to London” bomb on him so soon, maybe he took that the wrong way like I didn’t want him in my life.

I have a lot of unanswered questions about him which will forever remain unanswered. I’d never felt so much for a guy, I was so protective of him – not jealous, I mean I cared about his well-being (whereas my other boyfriends I used to silently wish would choke on their food).

I don’t think I’ll ever see him again. Maybe that’s good. Maybe he was an asshole in disguise. Maybe he would have ruined my life. I mean would I really have wanted to be his wife and live with him in Punxsutawny, Pissville forever? Cause I know he wasn’t geographically adventurous like me and I know his views on women were kinda “traditional”. Ahh, I don’t know. And I’ll never know.

And that’s another thing that’s got me worried. Did I just throw away the best thing that had ever happened to me cause of some stupid dream of being a computer scientist in London? Am I crazy? Or am I actually not crazy at all and doing exactly what I’m supposed to do?

Maybe THIS is the path that leads to true enlightenment and I’ll find myself a happy, loved old lady telling people, “That was the best decision I ever made!”

I have no freaking idea! And it’s driving me crazy! I need a sign, dammit!

Roughly a year from today, I’m either gonna be graduating from my Masters and feeling pretty good about the future… or I’m gonna be fucked! It’s really a coin toss right now…

 

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Dating In Your 30s

Sometimes I wonder whether I’m ever gonna meet a guy, before it’s too late…

Everywhere I look, I see couples loved up and making memories together. Every gal I know is perpetually in a relationship and they get to have all those lovely dating experiences like going to the movies, having dinner in a romantic restaurant, trips to the fairground, romantic holidays abroad, or even just cuddling up on the sofa – all that nice relationship stuff that you miss out on when you’re single.

And here’s me sat at a computer with messy hair, eating a massive bowl of cereal, realizing that the only long-term committed relationship I’ve ever been in is with my laptop computer. Well hey, at least it’s reliable!

I mean, I’ve dated more guys than I wish to remember. But most of my relationships don’t last longer than a three-course meal. A three-course meal at McDonalds.

Problem is, like a lot of introverts, I’m picky. Because introverts are generally OK on our own, we end up being less desperate and more choosy. And if we let someone in, they have to fit into our introvert lifestyle otherwise we’d go insane! But that doesn’t necessarily mean we like being alone. Some introverts do. But some of us long for a special connection with someone, to share our life with the right person, to put down roots.

But, it’s difficult to meet men in real life if you’re introverted. Or if you’re over 30. And especially if you’re both.

Dating in your thirties is different than dating in your twenties. First of all, once you’re over 30, most men are already married anyway. Else they have tons of baggage like kids, addiction issues, weight issues, kids, divorce, debts, kids.

jay341

Secondly, in your thirties, forty is hanging over you like a big cloud of doom and there’s a sense that, if you’re not already in line, you’d better get in line: get married, get a mortgage, get a family car, have kids, buy a white picket fence, pretend to be living happily ever after. I often relate it to musical chairs. Everyone is trying to find their seat before the music stops (at 40!). Because, like they said in Sleepless in Seattle, you have more chance of getting killed by a terrorist than you have of getting married over 40.

megcrying

Another problem is that online dating tends to be the go-to for introverts (and us older folks) but trying to meet a guy through online dating is difficult. Trust me, I’ve on-and-off online dated for 10 years. Am I in a loving, committed relationship? Yes! With my computer, remember?

A lot of men online are unstable, insecure, and perverted. They think you’re supposed to marry them by the second date. Or sleep with them within an hour of meeting. Or they’re players. Or they’re psychopaths. Usually all of the above. To be fair, I’ve heard a lot of women on dating sites are just as bad. Online dating brings out the worst in people.

Meeting someone in real life is much better. But it’s hard. How do you meet someone in real life?! A typical introvert’s social circle is not particularly big (mine consists mainly of married women and gays). And when you’re over 30, who in your workcircle is not already married with kids?

Well, there’s always Larry…larry

Back to Meg Ryan crying…

megcrying

It guess it’s like Prince said: Until I find my righteous one, computer blue.

Although, I actually have no idea what he meant by that… Oh well, back to my cornflakes.

What Happens If You Don’t Sleep?

You know what happens if you don’t sleep?

I’ll tell you…….

If you don’t sleep…….

You eventually…….……

fall asleep!

That’s it!

Nothing bad happens!

People are crazy:

“If you don’t sleep, YOU DIE!!!”

“If you don’t sleep, your brain fills with water, YOUR BRAIN DROWNS!!!”

No.

All that happens is you will eventually get so tired…….

that you will…….

just……

                 fall…….

       asleep….

no…..

     matter……

                                                    how…….

hard…….

                                            you…….

       try…..

                        not…….

to….

Good night.

People Don’t Need to Know I’m Gonna be Homeless.

Everyone thinks I’m going off to live this wonderful life in the big city; I’m too ashamed to tell them the truth…

I’ve been accepted onto a Masters course in the big city – London! Sounds great, right? I mean, this is a good thing! It’s great! I’m happy about it! This was my dream…

Rewind to how this all came about. A glorious spring morning in 2016, I was lying on the floor, bawling my eyes out and trying to think of the quickest way to kill myself. Because my life had counted for nothing. I had dreams… That’s only human, right? Some people have big dreams, some people have simple dreams, and some people are quite happy waking up and going to work and coming home and eating their TV dinner in front of some reality TV show and going to bed and waking up and living Ground Hog Day every damn day of their damn lives in Punxsutawney, Pissville. But, I’d had enough! I was literally sick to death of living in Punxsutawney, Pissville!

My dream was to move to America (where everyone I know lives) and be a professor. Y’see, I’m an academic person. Some people love hair & beauty. Some people love soccer. I love education. I love learning new things about the world. And everyone I know lives in America; I’m lonely in the UK. In that moment of lying on the floor, bawling my eyes out, I realized that there were only two options available to me. So I stopped crying, picked myself up and started working towards my goal of moving to America and becoming a professor. Getting a really useful Masters qualification is the second big step towards that goal (the first was getting my teaching qualification). America doesn’t just let anyone in. I need to become… impressive.

Problem is… I’m broke. I’ve always been broke. I’ve been sleeping on couches since I was 15. People talk about “2nd generation poverty” or “3rd generation poverty” but I don’t think any of my ancestors ever knew anything besides poverty. My great-great-great grandmother earned a few bucks by collecting dead bodies of sailors who had washed up on the shore. In fact, poverty is so normal to me that I don’t understand how or why other people my age have so much money… I see people with rich parents, mortgages, cars and stable jobs as, like, these magical beings… like, they must be blessed or something.

Rewind to summer 2008, I finished my bachelor degree just in time for the economic meltdown and ended up working dead-end, minimal-wage jobs. Like a lot of millenials, I was stuck in the infinity loop of over-qualified-under-experienced. (And they wonder why millenials aren’t having kids? We can’t afford kids!) Getting laughed out of low-pay interviews because we’re overqualified; getting laughed out of higher-pay jobs because we have no experience. Not that I get many interviews in a climate where 100 people are applying for every job and 99 of them have better CVs than I do.

I have to do this Masters degree. For me, there is no option. It’s this, or the roof of a multi-storey carpark. It should be a happy occasion. I’m moving to the big city! I love learning and this is a stepping stone towards my dreams. But universities are screwing over their Masters students with extortionate fees. So I’m going to be homeless. Not homeless like a tramp, but homeless like I’ll be living in youth hostels for the academic year. Although, considering I currently live on a couch in someone’s living room, and two months ago I was sleeping on a floor… perhaps it will be a slight upgrade. But I dread not having any privacy and I’m concerned about my valuables being stolen and I worry about sleeping next to strangers who could potentially be psychopaths…

Rewind to 2016, the government introduced student loans for Masters degrees. Which is great! I could not do my Masters without this funding. But unlike at bachelor level where you have two separate amounts for your fees and for your living expenses, the Masters funding is just one lump sum for everything. You get up to £10,280 total, maximum, final. As soon as the government announced this, many universities in England rammed up their Masters fees from previously being between £2,000-£6,000 to now being, you guessed it, £10,280.

Because they can.

Most universities in the UK are money-obsessed and have zero consideration for their students mental and physical well-being.

And so students are left with nothing to live off.

The government knew full well that most universities would charge as much as they could get away with. It’s criminal that universities don’t have to justify why a course has increased by up to £8,000 in the span of one academic year. On top of that, universities will toss out any student they think might struggle because they’re obsessed with ratings. The latter is understandable but the former goes against the ethos that educational establishments are supposed to be held by. How can an institution claim to be inclusive and support diversity and equality when they a) only accept top performing students, b) charge fees that exclude most people?

So now that the universities are charging such high fees, how are students supposed to live?

My university is not quite charging £10,280. No, they’re charging £8,500. I could study a cheaper Masters but that would mean ending up with a less useful qualification (think: Msc. Baby Farts), which would mean lower future wages and less ability to move to the USA, so that’s not a risk I’m willing to take. I can only do this once, may as well make it count. But this leaves me with £1,780 to live off for 10-months. That’s £178 per month….

Obviously, I’ll get a job, but I don’t know how long that will take or how much I’ll be able to earn in the limited hours available between studying.

Quick math lesson…

Costs for the academic year:

  • Hostel accommodation = $4,000 (MINUS £2220. Notice I’m already in minus figures by several grand and I’m homeless and haven’t even bought a damn sandwich yet…)
  • Money I owe people = £2400 (-£4620)
  • Food/Drink/Clothes/Toiletries = £1000 (-£5620)
  • Travel costs = £500 (-£6120)
  • Stationary & Books = £300 (-£6420)
  • P.O Box address = £200 (-£6620)
  • Trip to Disneyland = wait… What? Ok, fine, no Disneyland.

Compare this with Undergraduate degrees where students get their £9,000 per year fees paid and various grants and loans to cover living costs up to £9,000 per year. It’s not mega-bucks, but it’s far better than £1780. Another comparison: For my teacher training course that I did last year, I got £8000 fees paid, a £9,000 maintenance loan, and a £4,000 bursary.

Why is it so impossible to offer the same for Masters students? Why? WHY!? They know damn well they can afford it, so why?! Why are we being screwed over and forced to live below the poverty line when other students are given maintenance loans?

And this £6620 debt is while living like a homeless person, and putting my physical and mental well-being in danger. This isn’t living some luxury life. And this is all just to attend a university course. To try to get somewhere with my life. To try to get a decent job so I can earn a decent wage so I can eventually own my own home sometime before I die and eventually live close to my friends and be able to put a little door mat out on the porch like a normal person and invite people over for lemonade like a normal person, instead of living like a fucking nomad.

On top of making me homeless, my university has the audacity to tell me to get a Career and Professional Development loan which would cost me £280 per month to repay. (You have to repay the CPDL as soon as your course finishes.) Yet there is no guarantee I’ll have a job by then that can pay £280 on top of rent, bills, food, and my existing £240 per month debts. So, I’d just be worse off.

My university also has the audacity to tell me I shouldn’t work while doing my Masters because I should focus on my studies. If they didn’t bankrupt me I wouldn’t need to work while I study. I wouldn’t need to be homeless. That was their choice. I have to live in squalor while they have their champaign luncheon in their 5 * luxury, air-conditioned, leather-chaired, marble-floored meeting room.

I don’t know who to be more mad at: the universities or the government. I think they’re both as bad as each other.

Universities are earning so much excess money these days that they’ve become like encapsulated worlds, buying up every other building, engulfing neighbouring schools, colleges and office blocks, buying brand new technology for every department then throwing it all away 6 months later, spending thousands of self-congratulatory dinner parties, while their students starve and live in rat-infested closets with 5 other people like its Dharavi or Karachi, or some other god-awful dimension of hell.

Fast forward to today, I’m going through the process of throwing away 99% of my belongings. I won’t have anywhere to store anything at the hostel so I’ll just take a few essentials. I recall the words of an acquaintance I bumped into a few days earlier… “You’ll have to let me know where you’re living in London. I’ll come visit!” She was hugging me and excited about my big adventure. I just smiled and nodded. People don’t need to know I’m going to be homeless. They all think I’m heading to the big city to live an amazing life. I take down memories from shelves and throw them in the trash. A funny thought crosses my mind: “It’s almost like dying…”

I can only hope I’ll be reborn as a butterfly.

Trying To Get Ahead

Have you noticed how hard it is to get ahead in life? Not for all of us, of course, just some of us… :side-eyes:

Most of the people I know seem to be doing fine. Perhaps it’s a case of grass-is-greener syndrome but…

I know one woman who lives in a beautiful big house with lots of land and she doesn’t have to work and can spend all day brushing her hair because her husband has a good job. She even had the opportunity to move to Australia with him but turned it down. Because her life is so great that, well, it’s just too great and maybe she doesn’t want to overdose on the greatness by taking up such a great opportunity! We should all be so lucky!

Several people in my circle popped out kids to get boyfriend-and-welfare-money, they don’t work and live practically for free.

Some acquaintances of mine – younger than me (how dare they be younger than me!) – have mortgages, cars, families, constant emotional support, and seemingly endless amounts of cash (I need to find where they’re hiding those money trees…).

Other people I see are always getting promoted and are so popular and everyone loves them because they suck ass all day and tell people what they want to hear. They are always being given fantastic opportunities, some of which they turn down, because they can afford to.

I, however… and no, I’m not being self-pitying, just stating some facts… have had to work shitty jobs my entire life, never had a promotion, can’t afford to get a mortgage, can’t afford to buy a car, or any of the other perks that other people seem to have. I don’t understand where I’m going wrong?

I know, I know, I could’ve been born with no arms or legs, I should be grateful. But, y’know, when you look around and you see people living a certain way and you think… HOW!? How did you get that life? And why can’t I get that life? What is your secret?

We compare ourselves with the people we see around us, if they all have X, Y, Z, we feel we should also have X, Y, Z and… why don’t we? Then you start to panic and worry you’re getting left behind. And you wonder… why?! What am I doing wrong?!

Over the last two years, I’ve been trying to test fate and actually make something of my life. But, you know what? Everything I try just falls apart. My friends don’t have to fight for what they want, they just get it. I fight for it and still don’t get it.

I did teacher training but now that’s finished I’m jobless (school’s out for summer, Alice Cooper says so) and sleeping on someone’s sofa at the age of 30-something. I have no home, no car, no kids, no loving supportive boyfriend, my friends ignore me unless they want something, I’m stuck indoors all the time and rapidly incurring debt. I don’t understand where I’m going wrong!!! :frantically squeezes stress ball:

I know what you’re thinking: “You know what, Alice? Maybe you have a bad attitude…” You’re right, I do have a bad attitude! But, er, well, so does Donald Trump (god, I hate Donald Trump!) and people put him in charge of a country…, so…, y’know, I don’t think being Mary Poppins is necessarily going to change my situation.

I’m struggling to stay motivated when I keep getting hit with road blocks. Doubt is starting to creep in… Maybe everyone’s right about me… maybe I’m useless…

My whole life, people have said:

“No, you can’t do this”, “No, you can’t do that”, “That’s too hard for you,” “You’re stupid”, “We received stronger candidates”, “It was very competitive”, “You’re useless”, “You suck!”, “You’re not quite good enough”.

People say you gotta believe in yourself. But it’s kinda hard to believe in yourself when everyone’s telling you you’re not good enough. Sometimes we just need someone to believe in us, someone to have our back and tell us, “You can do it, you got this!”

Yes, There Are Missing Girls In Washington D.C

0325-missing-girls-metro-pd-2-1200x630If you’re on social media, you may have seen an article doing the rounds with the title: “WHERE IS THE MEDIA?: At Least 25 Black Teen Girls Are Missing In D.C Since Feb 1st!”

Is it true? Not exactly… but it’s not far off. Yes, there are missing girls in Washington D.C but behind the headlines there’s more than meets the eye.

First of all, let’s take a minute to remember that the media is an evil distraction factory and a poor substitute for the police. We should not be outraged about ‘where the media is’ because the media is not a government department and does not find missing children, it merely reports skewed facts about missing children and feeds off public hysteria.

What we need to look at is the Washington DC Police Department. Now, a big reason for the sudden interest in missing black children is that this year the Washington Metropolitan Police Department started publishing missing person notices on their Twitter feed. Because of this people have more awareness of these missing person cases, which is a good thing, but people don’t seem to realize these are normal levels of missing person cases. This is not the Twilight Zone, these are just average stats for any major U.S city. Also because of the demographics of Washington DC, which has a majority black population, it’s likely to have more missing black people than other races.

Worldwide, an average of 85,000 people are missing at any given time (NamUs 2016), around 50% are typically white adult males with black people making up 37% globally and minors 40% (USA Today 2014). Around 12,000 people are currently missing in the U.S (NamUS 2016).

Back over in Washington DC, so far this year the Metropolitan Police Dept have logged 774 missing people cases (501 juveniles and 273 adults), of which only 38 currently remain unresolved. On the other hand, the Washington PD solved 736 missing person cases in the last 3 months alone, and 479 missing minors were found. It’s so easy to focus on the negatives and forget all the hard work the Washington police department puts into protecting its community.

As you might imagine, the figures for missing people change frequently as citizens are found or others go missing. The good news is the stats represent a steady drop in missing person cases since 2015 and the Washington PD reports only 9 remaining unresolved cases between 2012-2016, so the vast majority of people who go missing each year in the state are found.

Most young people who are reported missing are runaways and turn up soon after being reported, with very few cases remaining unsolved. However, many social media users worry that missing black girls will be trafficked. Unfortunately, there are no official figures on human trafficking in the US because cases are rarely reported or known, but no doubt young girls and particularly girls of ethnic minorities are more at risk of being trafficked or prostituted and further at risk of violence because of socio-economic factors which affect girls and people of color in the US.

“Our frustration is, we deal with a very desensitized public,” says Robert Lowry of The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “The natural inclination is that the child’s behavioral problem is why they’ve left.” But sometimes these children are running away from “abuse or neglect or sexual abuse in the home”.

Of the 38 people missing in D.C, 22 are minors and 18 of them are listed as ‘critically 1490360160673missing’: “A critically missing child is one who is at an elevated risk of danger… A child’s age or mental/physical condition can be factors in determining whether a child is deemed to be critically missing” (NCMEC 2016).

“What the community is alarmed about,” says DC City Councilmember Trayon White, “[is] we had a 10-year-old girl missing the other day, but there was no amber alert.” White feels this was due to the child being black, although the strict guidelines of when a child can be considered to qualify for an amber alert may have affected the level of support received in this case. “AMBER plans require law enforcement to confirm an abduction prior to issuing an alert” (Office of Justice Programs 2017).

All in all, the conversation about missing children and the treatment of ethnic minorities is an important one and never unwarranted. “We applaud the conversation and we applaud the attention that this issue is being given” (Robert Lowry, NCMEC). It also appears that, with the current climate of anti-police sentiments and racial tension, police departments in the US have a long way to go in terms of building and maintaining public trust.

Forgiveness is a Noun not a Verb

Look, I’m like the least forgiving person on Earth. I don’t do “forgiveness”. But it seems to be really popular these days, I keep coming across this bizarre concept all over the internet when I’m looking for advice on revenge. But there’s something a lot of these “forgiving” people are getting wrong…

My advice to the forgive and forgetters is: if you truly wanna be all forgiving… that’s fine – but you gotta take note: forgiveness is a noun not a verb. What I mean is that forgiveness is a concrete, solid thing – like a big boulder or something. It’s a commitment you make to yourself – yourself, yourself – not other people – to improve the condition of your soul. You can’t just say you forgive someone and magically you acquire inner peace or something, it don’t work that way.

There was this chick the other day, prattling on about her ex for an hour and a half, and then she ended by saying, “But, of course, I forgive him”. Well… if she’d forgiven him she wouldn’t have just wasted 1.5 hours of her precious existence talking about how much she hates him. Think of all the things she could’ve done with that hour and a half…!

In 1.5 hours you can:

  • Learn to say “I love you” in 10 languages
  • Paint a beautiful picture
  • Learn how to play “Let It Be” by The Beatles on guitar
  • Learn how to make a Spanish omelette and actually make one and eat the damn thing – twice!

What a wasted opportunity!

I know that applies to me too, I’ve wasted at least – at least! – um… 7 years, on revenge, and that other fun “R” word: Regret. I could’ve become a Guitar Hero in that length of time! But, hey, I accept my fate, because verb-ing it doesn’t make it so and I can’t turn it into a noun unless I have some Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind treatment done on my brain.

If you can forgive and forget the people who’ve wrong you then good on you, think of all the Spanish omelettes you can make with your ample free time! Just make sure your behavior is matching the words coming out of your mouth otherwise you’ll have to come join me on the Raft of Revenge, and no “Let It Be” for you!