Legal Squatting

One month on the couch. Two and a half weeks on a different couch. Eight months in a double room. Three weeks in a sub let room. 

I’ve lived out of a backpack these past eight years that couch surfing is now the only way I know how to live. When I heard a room was freeing up in a household that is apart of Live In Guardians, I could not refuse. Plus, there was the added benefit that I would be living with the people I hang out with…basically any day I have off. 
Live In Guardians is a bit like living in a commune. The buildings are always in zone one and are abandoned. They range from schools, office buildings, co-working spaces, and so on. This means you need to be prepared to live a bit rough as the place you could end up living will most likely have broken windows, walls, torn up carpet and just plain dirty. Fortunately, the boys I am living with have been here for quite awhile so they managed to get the place fixed up. It also means we get to do things like tear down walls and build new ones. 
Why do we do it? Well as these places are up for sale, they need people to guard the areas from squatters which technically now makes us legal squatters. The rent is cheap, always in zone one, and if you don’t mind the living conditions then why not? 
In my case it is only temporary. London will soon be checked off the list as I am moving off to another part of the world. 
In the meantime, I get to live with an actor (who is quite often off gallivanting for his shoots in different parts of the world), a musician (who is apart of a wicked band and gets to tour in the UK), a composer who writes the music for tv and film, and my closest friend who puts up with my silliness. 
It’s not a bad deal. A year or so of struggling and moving from room to room only to land on my feet. I cannot complain.

Also, we watch Peep Show, have poker nights or spend the night trying to get a table tennis table we found outside into our living room all the while playing with passerbys. Now that is living.

Girl Gone London

I know a couple people who have been over the pond to visit and have now been debating going to graduate school here or taking the year to become a Londoner.
London is full of possibilities. Whether you are here for school, to start a business, acting or just to drink tea and eat crumpets all day, there is a place for you and I assure you that you will never have a dull moment.

However, there are a few things you need to get used to when you live in London.

1. Eating beans for breakfast.
2. Everyone will think you are flirting with them. If this happens, just smile and say, “no, I am not flirting, I’m just American.” This actually goes down quite well.
3. Marmite. Apparently it’s a thing and it’s revolting…but then you get used to it.
4. No late night kebab shops open so get used to fried chicken shops or ‘pigeon shops’.
5. Tea is like water.
6. Don’t think English men go to bars in suits and act civilised. They get hammered by about 8 o’clock and then sing pub songs until close.
7. English men do not know how to flirt. Luckily, the chance of you meeting a proper Londoner are slim as everyone you will meet is typically either a foreigner or from elsewhere in the UK.
8. You must queue up for absolutely everything, and you’ll be shunned if you don’t.
9. Travel costs an arm and a leg. Get yourself a bicycle.
10. Rent is pricey unless you live with a boyfriend/girlfriend or are apart of Live In Guardians.
11. You put trash, (I mean, rubbish) in a bin that are nowhere to be found.
12. You won’t have a day off for Thanksgiving.
13. Pork has applesauce on it.
14. No more brunch. It is all about Sunday roasts.
15. You can’t just order a beer. You must specify if you’d like a lager, ale or stout.
16. People look at you funny if you don’t drink.
17. I think it is safe to say the majority of people are alcoholics.
18. Taxi drivers have no soul.
19. Bus drivers will run you over.
20. Please and thank yous are obligatory.

If you can deal with all of that then I’d say welcome to London, mate.


Words of advice? 

Never leave your mobile out of sight when out with people who like to play pranks. Otherwise, you are most likely opening yourself up to text messages, Facebook messages, phone calls or any other social media you might have open hijacked.
I learned my lesson when a close friend who has been trying to shove me into the online dating world downloaded Tinder on my phone. A couple messages and about 10 matches but in the end no harm done, though she could have picked a better profile picture (just saying).

Out of curiosity and a stomach flu that had me bed ridden for a couple days, I started using the app as part of a social experiment/amusement. 

For those who aren’t familiar with the app, once you have created a profile, you have pictures of men or women pop up (depending on your preference) and you either “like” them by swiping right or “nope” them by swiping left. I have to admit that although incredibly shallow, there is a certain addiction to it. However for every swipe right there are about 20 swipes to the left. 
I swiped “nope” so many times that Tinder started showing me profiles of women. I guess after a while you have to start lowering your standards in order to “match”. 

Tattoos on your face? Nope
Pictures of you that look like you spent more time than I do in a week fixing your hair? Nope
Playboys? Nope 
Australian rugby player who likes to travel? Yes, please. 

I told you it was shallow. Stop judging. 

A couple things I found odd when using the app:
This isn’t as much of an “odd” thing as surprising–people are quite open about what they are looking for whether it’s a one night stand or long term relationship. 
Also, no one took the time to add anything in the “about me” section except for height (if anything). 
I told you. 

How it works:
Now, once you have swiped right, you wait to find out if the other person swiped right as well in order to “match”. It is all anonymous until you match in which case you are able to message the person and start chatting. 
Then, Australian rugby player/personal trainer (29 years old) Dean and you are able to talk.
I have to be honest, the app provided me with entertainment for a couple hours as I was sick in bed with a stomach flu but no Prince Charming. I couldn’t be bothered to text back or listen to the notifications on my phone any longer, so I eventually deleted the app.

Though I found these chats amusing:
Ross: Hey, what’s your favorite color? 
Laura: Hi…um, purple. 
Three hours later 
Laura: I guess I failed the test. 

Matt: Hey, I’m looking for a girl that is willing to be my submissive baby girl. She’ll have the satisfaction of pleasuring me. Are you the girl I’ve been searching for? 
Laura: LOL
Laura: You can keep searching. 

Marc: Hey, you look cute in a cheeky way. 
Laura: I don’t even know what to say to that. 
OK, part of these messages were responded to by my roommate and I. We had quite a laugh. All I have to say is that there a lot of creeps out there. Tinder is just not my cup of tea. 

However, although it isn’t for me, my roommate has been on his third Tinder date this week.
It apparently works for him…though he did get catfished once.


UK, seriously?!

If you have never been to the UK then you are not aware that warm water does not exist. There is a tap for cold water which is near freezing and then there is a tap for hot water which is near boiling. In order to obtain that warm water that we all try to set when we open the tap you have to turn them both on and then cup your hands together and alternate between the boiling water and the freezing.
No, I am not lying and yes it is a daily struggle to wash my face without scalding it or shivering.
It is quite unclear to me why a developed country like the UK would use a two-tap system.

Who knows the reason behind it… I just add it the long list of weird things the British do differently.

Here is a short video that underlines my daily struggle in obtaining ‘warm water’.

Let’s talk about Dating

Living in a big city can be hard to meet people. We’re constantly rushing into one another, trying to keep up with the pace that we never have time to stop and talk. 
There are 168 hours in a week. Forty eight of those hours are spent sleeping. I work 45-48hrs per week. Twelve to fifteen hours are now spent at school. 
Even if I have two full days off, that doesn’t give me much time to do anything. I’m lucky if I have time wash my clothes. 
I know am terrible at math but from that calculation it is evident that I do not have the time to date. 
Sorry boys but my free time is spent. 
The only time we meet people are now either through those we already know, or from the those mundane events where we casually talk to the person next to us. 
The other night after a ten hour shift, I rushed in the night bus and just as I was about to tap my oyster on the reader, I hear, “wait, can I give you my business card?” 
At 2 o’clock in the morning on a Thursday night, you quickly comprehend that the type of business he would like to discuss is not of “Business Consulting” as stated on his business card. 
If there is anything to be said, it’s that I have to applaud the level of marketing. 
Are we so out of touch that we now have to communicate through business cards if not through online dating apps or social media? 
Living in the start-up center hub of London, I can comprehend the interaction but still. 
I guess I’m still far behind my time because I still think it’s possible to interact with each other by doing that one thing few of us know how to do anymore—talk. 
We’ll see how far I get as I am constantly told to start dating apps like Tinder but although it might be labeled as “old fashioned”, I’d rather meet a person organically. 

Sorry, not sorry

Why do English people say ‘sorry’ all the time? Not only do they constantly say it, they also do not mean it. I’ll hear it all the time and most of the time the other person hasn’t even done anything but they’ll say it anyway. Its almost as if they think one step ahead in avoiding any possible conflict.
Now, I know what you are thinking…and yes I do apologise when I have done something wrong but I won’t just go around saying it all the time.
With time, I have learned that ‘sorry’ here it isn’t as much of an apology as it is a politeness strategy. They aren’t sorry, they are just trying to be polite. I guess that makes me impolite.

Also, let us talk about the word ‘mate’ for a minute. How is a complete stranger your ‘mate’? There is no way I can be your mate. I am not your wife, girlfriend or other sexual partner. We just met…at least buy me dinner first.

As long as we are on the subject.. I have a few other things to say.

Although I am mostly used to this one by now, I cannot help but have a quizzical look on my face when someone I just met calls me “love” or “darling”. It loses it’s value when you say it to your significant other and then repeat it to the cashier at the local grocery store for handing you your change. Think about it.

Maths? Why is there an ‘s’ on the end? Why would anyone want more than one math? One is enough!

I don’t quite understand the word mum. If you are replacing the ‘o’ with a ‘u’ then shouldn’t you be calling your dad a dud. Just trying to be logical here.

There is more than one tea in the world. It isn’t just English Breakfast. There is white tea, green tea, herbal tea, oolong tea. Next time you ask me for tea, please specify or at least don’t give me that, what-do-you-mean-what-kind-of-tea-look. I’m not dumb. I just can’t read minds.

Thank you doesn’t exist. It’s ‘tah‘ or ‘cheers’. I just handed you a drink and your change. You can thank me, but ‘cheers’? I mean, we aren’t bonding over a drink here. I’m clearly on the wrong side of the bar.

People actually say ‘cheerio’ and they aren’t talking about the cereal. This one makes me hungry.

(Brief note in case any one of my co-workers/roommates stumble upon this. I am just kidding folks, you know I love you….but, please stop calling me your love because you are confusing the entire Western hemisphere.)