It’s Christmas Eve. I can hardly believe it. Since I got here, my feet have barely touched the ground. I’ve networked like crazy–joined this, visited that, touched base with so many people–and spent quite a lot of time acquiring the bureaucratic stuff needed for life in America. In the past six weeks I’ve achieved getting a social security number, a bank account, a US driving licence (which involved taking a road test and a written test) and an American Express card (which gives me a credit rating, even though I have no job).
My latest project is putting together an application to the University of Michigan for a job teaching film and video, which would be really fantastic. This has involved writing a philosophy of teaching, which I may post here once it’s done. That all came about because I was a judge at the end of term student film screenings. And that came about because I met up with a nice guy called Shrihari Sathe, who is president of the student film and video association.
How did I meet him? Well, in between working through a Photoshop training manual (now completed–it took a month) I volunteered myself at the Michigan Theater to run something called Cinema Slam, a bi-monthly programme of short films which used to be run by my friend Amelia Martin, who has since moved on to work in New York. Cinema Slam seemed like a good way to network as well as an opportunity to see lots of shorts. Yes, by the way, we really did go out and film a fifteen minute drama last week, American Short Film, on DV equipment.
Now, as I say, I’m doing the UofM job application and this requires me to get a number of reference letters, which I’ve been chasing up in the UK. So far, so good, although trying to get anything sensible out of BBC Human Resources is like trying to get blood out of a stone. One of my former managers thought I had my standards too high for what I expected from them, but I think to myself that surely the BBC itself sets the bar when it calls for a four page application for any job then makes you pass a board.
In between all that, I’ve been watching the currency rates go up and down. Mainly up, as far as the dollar-stirling rate is concerned. Last week it hit $1.76 to the pound and I finally had the all important social security number which meant I could open a bank account, so I bought a goodly amount through an online site. If this works out, I’ll post the link.
All well and good, you might think. But no. Mercury is retrograde, so purchases, internet and communications in general all go awry. First we discover that there is a transaction limit of £10,000 for online banking with LloydsTSB. Because the internet is unsafe? Hmm. Then why are they letting me access my bank account at all? Hmmm. So, I transfer £10k amounts until I hit the second wall–a £30k daily limit. Good grief.
In the end, I transfer the money over more than one day using online banking. So far, so good again. But no. Again. Today, the whole lot is back in my account with “rejected” on the statement and can I find out why? No. LloydsTSB is no longer a bank but a number of call centres, none of which can help me directly by simply moving the cash from my account to my currency dealer’s bank. Good grief again. I waste 45 minutes in phone calls and then set up the payments again with a different sort code. Maybe it will work this time.
I am stressed. I read my emails. There’s only one new one and it immediately slows me down. Simon has been to light a candle at St Albans Abbey. He’s not the first–Mike and Julie went the other day. Yet it’s another reminder; I have friends and they care. Simon has taken a couple of photos with his mobile phone and sent them to me. Mum’s candle is the one in the middle. Despite all the hassles of the morning, I am filled with a sense of peace. I come here, write my scribbles, pause and drink my tea. People. That’s what’s really important. The people in one’s life.
Thank you to everyone who lit candles. It’s appreciated. You folks are all the best.