Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

You’ve been waiting for it, and now it’s here!  No, not the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, or the official launch of the London Olympic Games hype, or the year of the Mayan Apocalypse—2012 is my Tin Jubilee Celebration, and I’m kicking it off today.
Today (or tomorrow, if you got here early, or last week, if you got here late), the 5th of January 2012 marks the 10-year anniversary of Postcards From Across the Pond.  (We will, of course, celebrate other milestones throughout the year, such as my actual arrival in the UK; the blog was started when I was still in the US.)
Ten years is quite an age for a blog, and in that time, the blogging world has changed dramatically; well, first it was actually created, then it changed.  In the early days, I maintained Postcards on a website using HTML; it wasn’t until after the publication of the first book that I moved—at my publisher’s insistence—to a blog, and that didn’t happen until November 2008.
I suffered a brief and frightening flirtation with Wordpress during my early months, but scurried back to Blogger with my tail between my legs after only a few weeks.  In June of this past year, however, I made a second attempt and managed to establish a beachhead, and eventually a full-blown blog empire, in Wordpress.
Since publishing the first book and abandoning HTML, I have published a second Postcards book, and have recently completed the manuscript for the third—Postcards From Ireland, the final book of the Postcards Trilogy.  You’ll be hearing more about that in the coming weeks, but for now, I offer the very first post on the Postcards From Across the Pond web log (that’s what we called ‘em in those days, sonny).
I think this maiden post is remarkable for a variety of reasons: first, that I was able to locate it after all this time and, second, that three books actually resulted from what—to be kind—was a less than auspicious beginning.  But, of course, back in those days, having a website was still rare enough that, simply having one made you stand out; scintillating posts weren’t altogether necessary, as you will see:

The Original Postcards Logo
05 January 2002
This is, without a doubt, the most drastic undertaking of my entire life.  For all that, I think I have it fairly well under control.
There are so many variables and so many things to co-ordinate, not the least of which is disentangling myself from my civil service job where I have been working for the past quarter century.  After that much time, your life becomes so pervaded by the 'culture' of civil service you begin to take it all for granted.
The money isn't great, but it has always been comfortable, and lately it has been very good.  The job, for the most part, is at my convenience, thanks to liberal holiday, personal and sick leave.  I have, for my entire adult life, had excellent health benefits, a good dental plan, eye care and a host of other perks.
All of that is about to change in ways I cannot even imagine.
I have never been unemployed before, and the thought is frightening.  Not only will I have to find a new job, but I'll have to do it in a strange culture.
There is also the unsettling thought that this is all irrevocable.  Once I quit, once I move out of my apartment, once I get on that plane and head for the UK, there is no going back.  Well, I could go back, I suppose, but I'd have no job, no place to live and no money.
Does all this give me second thoughts?  No.  Pause for thought, yes, but not second thoughts.
Despite the problems in selling my car, getting rid of all my stuff, trying to wade through the red tape of immigration and tax laws and the daunting thought of having little money in a culture where the cost of living is much higher than it is here, I have the deep conviction that I am doing the right thing.
In my mind, I have only two choices; continue to live in America and finish out my life working at a cushy and undemanding job or accept the hardships inherent in such a move and build a life with a woman who is deeply in love with me and who I love dearly.  When looked at that way, the choice is obvious.
And so I spent the day sorting through my stuff and making multiple trips to the dumpster.  I arranged to sell my furniture and worked out a plan to get rid of my car.  I studied the tax laws and checked into my financial situation.  All in all, things don't look all that bad.  Not yet, at least.
Right now, everything still seems surreal and England seems very far away.  What I have to hang onto is the knowledge that, when I am there, I feel at home and happier than I can ever remember being.  For now, that's going to have to get me through.

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