Ice Hockey

Jan. 7th, 2014 01:49 pm
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This week I have been getting into ice hockey, because apparently I have to try all of the Canadian cliches in 2014 and this seemed like a fun one to start with.

Well, that's one reason - the other reason is because I have been thinking for a few years how it would be nice to have a sport of my own to enthuse about, and until recently I hadn't been able to find one. Joe is enthusiastic about all the sports except golf, and I would like to be able to join in with his enthusiasm and watch games with him and suchlike, but until I watched hockey I hadn't found a single sport that I could watch an entire game of without getting unbearably bored (I sometimes try with football and I'm usually okay until half-time. I quite liked playing rounders as a kid so I was hopeful about baseball, but then we went to a baseball match and it was awful). And I want to find a sport I am interested in myself, not just one that I make an effort to be interested in because my husband likes it.

So anyway, a few days ago we were talking about hockey and about how we'd be in Canada for the playoffs, and then Joe said 'shall we try and find some hockey to watch now?'. By a remarkable coincidence we caught the last twenty minutes of the NHL Winter Classic live, and it was jolly exciting. We watched our first whole game on Sunday evening (it was the Winnipeg Jets vs the Pittsburgh Penguins and it was REALLY EXCITING), and I thought it was brilliant and I'm looking forward to watching another game next weekend. I am supporting the Winnipeg Jets, because they have lots of afternoon games (which start at 6 or 7pm GMT, whereas evening games tend to start at midnight - sadly the reason why they have lots of afternoon games is because they're not very good, but you can't have everything), and also because we're visiting Winnipeg on the train and it seems like a nice place. So now I am spending my lunchbreak on Wikipedia and the NHL website trying to figure out how a hockey team works. I am slightly disconcerted by the amount of information you apparently need to know in order to Like a Sport, but I'm sure I'll manage. At least Joe will take care of all the stuff involving statistics.

Hello 2014!

Jan. 2nd, 2014 11:22 am
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I'm pretty happy with 2014 so far. Admittedly I had to work both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, but we closed early on NYE so I still got an evening of champagne, board games and really great friends (my favourite kind of New Year's Eve). And then the next day I got to serve CHINA MIEVILLE in the shop and then spend the rest of the day chatting with my colleagues and doing some research for my sections, so that wasn't so bad (no deliveries and not many customers = we mostly stand about having interesting conversations about books and swapping bizarre bookselling anecdotes). And today I have the day off, and am mostly sleeping late and wandering around in my dressing gown and catching up on various bits of correspondence. Later there will be a book and a cup of yuzu tea. Now, there will be a couple of paragraphs of pontification about 2013.

2013 was the year I applied for (and got!) my first Canada visa, finally got the piercings in my right ear I've been vaguely thinking about for years, attended the London Book Fair as a translator rather than an exhibitor, started a translation blog, went to a translation masterclass, got a permanent job in a bookshop (and learned what it is like to genuinely look forward to going to work every day), wrote my dissertation, attended the translation summer school for the second time and enjoyed it even more than the first, got paid for freelance work (several times, in fact!), wrote some reader's reports (but did not get paid for them), finished my MA, entered the Kurodahan translation contest for the first time, passed my driving theory test, and applied for my second Canada visa.

I finished my second year of Korean study and started my third. I translated work by Ekuni Kaori and Kakutani Mitsuyo (among others), and I tried some Yoshimoto Banana for a friend but in the end I didn't really have time to do it justice and also it was really hard. I tried to take myself seriously as a translator, but it was difficult because despite everything I've written above I didn't do as much translation work as I wanted to this year, and I still feel a bit lost in the industry as a whole. I didn't really have a holiday, at home or abroad (in fact, for the first time since I was about seventeen, I didn't leave the UK for the whole year), but I planned a really spectacular one for next year. I missed out on quite a bit of social stuff due to work, but I also spent lots of time with friends, including reconnecting with some I hadn't seen since my wedding. I learned that there will never be enough time to read all the things I want/need to read (translated literature to broaden my horizons, untranslated Japanese literature to improve my Japanese and make me a better translator, Canadian literature to give me a chance of working with books in Canada, all the new SFF to make me a better bookseller and also for fun, etc etc...). I managed to achieve most of my 2013 goals, and although this little summary seems somewhat lacking in fun stuff, I distinctly remember having a lot of that as well. It was a good, hard-working, self-development year, and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to spend it studying things I really love, and thinking about the things that really matter to me, life-wise and career-wise and all the rest of it. I think I know where I'm going now - I'm still not so sure I know how to get there, but it's good to have an end in mind, at least.

Big goals for 2014: There's really only one, and it is so big it kind-of blots out everything else I might be thinking about doing. Finally, finally, this is the year we move abroad.
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The past eight days have been...a bit tense. One of those weeks where there's not actually an awful lot of stuff to do, but there is a lot of stuff to worry about, and somehow all the worrying fills your head and makes you feel as if you have a lot to do even though you don't. And then you don't do anything and it makes you feel worse. This is what has happened:

11/12: MA results day. I got a Distinction! Success!
12/12: First round of applications for 2014 Canada visas opened online (confusingly, we already have 2013 visas and are planning to use them in 2014, but we are also trying for a 2014 visa which we can use in 2015). I was at home working on both of our applications simultaneously, but 2000 other people were quicker than me and the round closed after twenty minutes, before I had the chance to submit anything. Failure!
14/12-15/12: I was working both days of this weekend, which was okay but meant I had no time to relax. Or revise for...
16/12: Korean end-of-term written test and oral presentation. I haven't had the marks back for this yet, but it was probably fine and at least it's over now. Success?
17/12: Second round of applications for Canada visas opened. Fortunately you can just pick up your application where you left off in the first round - ours were both basically complete, so this time I managed to submit both our applications within four minutes! We have been assigned tracking numbers, and now it's just a case of getting all the documents in order again and sending them off. Hopefully. Success!
19/12: I had my driving theory test. I passed! Success!

I...think it's all over now? For a while, at least. And I have bought all the Christmas presents and booked time off work for my driving course, and I don't think I have anything in particular to worry about until then. I am quite envious of all you people who will be getting more than three days off work over Christmas, but then again I love my job so it's not that bad.

Now to make a massive cup of tea and eat something celebratory. And try to persuade myself that it's safe to stop worrying for now.
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I'm afraid this blog may turn into the Blog of Moving To Canada for the next few months. But after that it will be the Blog of Living In Canada, which will hopefully be more exciting for all concerned.

In Moving To Canada news: yesterday we booked our flights to Vancouver! Hurrah! We leave on 2nd April, and we did not book a return flight (dear Catherine, I am sorry we are leaving on your birthday. It had to happen because of a complicated alignment of Pesach and train timetables and visa deadlines. Oh, and also the TH Class of 2004 anniversary dinner, which prevented us from leaving in March). We also did a lot of talking about where exactly we are going to go when we step off the train in Toronto: I think the answer is that we are going to rent a short-term-rental furnished flat for a month or so, while we get to know the city and work out which neighbourhoods would be good to live in for the rest of our stay (and hopefully find some way of earning money). I've found a few flats within our price range that are available for short-term rental for just this kind of situation, so I'm hoping it won't be too difficult to arrange.

That leaves us with not that much left to prepare at the Canada end, actually - once we've booked the train and the other holiday stuff, and found our short-term accommodation in Toronto, we'll really just have stuff at this end to deal with. Sadly there is a lot of stuff at this end, and none of it is as exciting as the Canada-end stuff - it's all about renting out our house, and finding somewhere to store all our stuff, and fixing the dripping tap in the bathroom and getting the fuse box checked and all that sort of thing. I am trying not to get emotional about leaving our house with strangers, but it's difficult. It is the best house <3

In non-moving to Canada news: since my dissertation hand-in day, I have worked three weeks full-time at the bookshop to cover for lack of staff, and one week part-time (which is what I originally signed up for), and I've just been asked to go back to full-time again for a few weeks because somebody else has handed in their notice so we're going to be short-handed again. It's nice to have the extra money, but it means that I don't have time to pursue translation/publishing/other freelance work as much as I'd like (for example, I have not been proactive about emailing people like I said I would be), and also it eats up all my weekends and evenings and means I have no time to do fun things. I do enjoy the work and it's nice to be saving money for Canada, so I know I shouldn't complain, but...I don't know, this isn't where I thought I'd be when I'd finished my MA. Most of the time I don't feel any closer to the literary translation world than I did before I started it. Sometimes (like this week, when I have not been at the Frankfurt Book Fair), I feel even further away from it than I did back then. Bah. Perhaps it's good for me to be spending more time at the bookshop, and less time at home being introspective about my career.

Six months!

Oct. 1st, 2013 08:41 pm
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Tomorrow we will have six months to go until Canada time! Joe and I celebrated this (and our first day off together since Yom Kippur) by having pancakes for breakfast, taking some photographs of our house for renting-it-out purposes, and doing some more research for our big beginning-of-Canada-time holiday. I have been spending a lot of time on Wikivoyage, and reading blogposts by people who have made the train trip we're doing, and I have made myself so excited that I can't think about anything else. Things I cannot wait for: Vancouver, the Southern Gulf Islands, the train through the Rockies, dozing off to sleep while endless miles of Canada go past outside my window, Saskatoon (I have this weird thing about going to Saskatoon. I'll tell you about it sometime), the stars over the prairies, Pesach in Winnipeg, the lakes, the wildlife, passing through all the tiny towns with tiny stations and thinking about the people who live there, getting off the train in Toronto and saying to each other 'well, this is home now. We're home.'


Sep. 17th, 2013 11:08 am
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I made a formal complaint to SOAS about the Language Centre and it was upheld, so I'll be getting my money back! And I can keep learning with my lovely teacher and classmates for another couple of terms! Thank-you [personal profile] kerrypolka for confirming that the Language Centre's behaviour was Not On, and encouraging me to take my complaint up to the next level.

Yom Kippur

Sep. 17th, 2013 10:14 am
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Despite not feeling at all prepared for Yom Kippur and actually rather dreading it, I had a good experience this year. I have thought about this, and I think these are the reasons:

Over-analysation of religious feelings that probably shouldn't be analysed because that's missing the point, or something )
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This afternoon I handed in my dissertation, and now I am not a student any more.

It's a bit weird really. I'm glad I managed to get it done in time for Yom Kippur - I am not feeling very spiritual at the moment, and I could do with some time before Friday evening to try and get into the Yom Kippur groove. I still don't think I have worked out what I'm really supposed to be doing on Yom Kippur. (whereas it's completely clear to me what I should be doing on Rosh Hashanah: singing really loudly and hearing the shofar and getting drunk on apple and honey cocktails with [personal profile] kerrypolka before having dinner with my in-laws. I'm glad I've worked that one out, at least).

A lot of people have asked me what I plan to do now my MA is over, and I have told most of them a partial version of the truth. This is the whole truth:

- I will carry on working at the bookshop. I have just taken over the SFF section and assumed temporary control of the Travel section (I'm also keeping Health and MBS - but getting rid of Reference and Humour, thank goodness), and in a month or so I will be increasing my shifts from 2.5 days a week to 3.5 days a week.

- I will keep on translating literary things, and trying to acquire more freelance publishing jobs. I will be more proactive about offering to do reader's reports, instead of waiting for them to drop on me by chance. I might even get paid to translate something at some point.

- I will see if we have enough money and I have enough courage to take driving lessons. I was planning to do this last year, but the MA got in the way and to be honest I was pretty relieved.

- I will be the chief organiser for the process of renting out our house and packing up all of our stuff in the early months of next year. I'm a bit worried about this too, as it's the kind of thing that Joe is better at than me, but I am the one most likely to be home and able to do stuff during office hours. I hope it'll be less daunting than it seems right now.

- At the beginning of April, Joe and I will fly out to VANCOUVER, and will start our Canadian adventure by travelling from there to TORONTO by TRAIN. We are both very excited about this. And after, life in Toronto, hopefully.

And that's the plan! I don't think I'll be running out of things to do any time soon.
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Oh, SOAS is screwing me over again and this time I'm not sure I can bring myself to forgive them. It's a long story - basically it turns out that SOAS students are entitled to a 25% discount for evening classes, but until this year that information was essentially a secret: it wasn't on the SOAS website or the application forms or anything, and the only way you could find out that the discount existed was to ask specifically about it at the Language Centre or be informed of it by somebody there (sadly the Japanese and Korean Secretary did not see fit to inform me of the discount when I told her I was starting an MA, but perhaps some of the other language secretaries did do this). I remember looking into discounts when I first enrolled at SOAS, but being the child of the internet era that I am, when I couldn't find anything about them online it didn't occur to me to phone up and ask someone on the off-chance. When they finally put the information up on the website recently, I happened to see it and phoned up in alarm to try and get my discount. I was told not to worry because people who were still enrolled as SOAS students were allowed to claim their Language Centre discounts retrospectively, so I sent off a cheery discount-claiming email, and now it turns out that actually I had to claim by 1st August (this was also a secret) and now they won't give me any retrospective discount or any compensatory discount, and the courses at SOAS are expensive, guys.

I don't know. It's partly the money and partly the refusal to show any kind of flexibility on the issue that upsets me. It wouldn't be difficult for them to give me a token amount of money off the next term's course, and given that I am both a SOAS student and a long-term learner at the Language Centre, I'm a bit hurt that they don't want to make any effort at all to make up for the fact that I've been screwed over by policies which they themselves admit are unfair. I had a bit of back-and-forth with the programme director, and then she got sick of tying herself in knots trying to justify it all and essentially said that if I wanted to carry on with Korean at SOAS I'd just have to pay up again.

So now the thought of giving them more money makes me feel a bit ill - apart from anything else, I think that offering a secret student discount for years and years to those in-the-know is a little bit morally repugnant, and that subsequently offering compensation for it for current students but then setting a secret compensation deadline is even worse.

On the bright side, King's have started offering Korean courses at my level (and looking at their shiny organised website full of useful information makes me want to cry. If only they'd offered more than one term of Beginners' Korean back when I first started...), so I'm thinking of applying there. The problem is that they need a certain number of students for the course to go ahead, and what if they don't get enough and I end up missing out on Korean altogether? The other problem is that my teacher is really good and I'd miss her a lot, and I'd miss a couple of my classmates too. But then, it's not as if I'm planning to stay in the UK indefinitely - I'd be leaving them after two more terms anyway, so I'm not sure it matters that much if I leave now instead.

I really can't tell if this is Cutting Off My Nose to Spite My Face, or Voting With My Wallet and electing to stop giving money to an institution that has repeatedly let me down. But either way, I'm feeling pretty sad about it.
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OMG you guys, my friend at the bookshop who looks after all the most interesting sections is leaving next month! Today I launched a coup for control of one of his sections (any one, they're all awesome) and I think I am now next in line to become King of the Science Fiction & Fantasy section! Or at least, my manager made some very positive noises about it, and I'm told that apparently that's all it really takes. I AM VERY EXCITED ABOUT THIS.

My first act as ruler will be to instate a face-out display devoted to awesome women (authors and/or protagonists) in SFF. I may be spending some time on [personal profile] eithin's SFF blog to get some recommendations. I haven't decided what title to give the display yet, but I'll let you know - assuming nobody else swoops in and steals my section, that is. But I asked for it first so I consider it basically bagsie'd.

Also, I have new shoes and they are super-comfortable for standing in a shop for nine hours at a time in! So, hurrah for everything, basically.
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Hello hello. It has been a while since I last blogged. This is because I have been putting all my blogging energy into my translation-and-publishing blog, which is going rather well and which I'm really enjoying writing (though I'm still concerned that I'm going to run out of things to say very soon :/ ). Here is an update on My Life Right Now.

- I work in a bookshop! I like it very much - in fact, I look forward to going to work more than I ever have before (although I'm sure this is at least partly due to the fact that I only work there three days a week). I am in charge of the Humour, MBS, Health/Parenting and Reference sections (that list is in ascending order of how much I like the section in question), and I am learning a lot about bookselling and it's really great. Also my colleagues are all brilliant and interesting to talk to, and most of them do something really cool when they're not selling books (we've got a freelance journalist, a philosophy student, a couple of writers, an archaeologist and somebody who has something to do with making films but I can't remember what), which is kind of what I was hoping booksellers would be like but didn't actually expect it to be the case. It is really nice to be in a job where you go 'yay, work tomorrow!', even if it is just a retail job and people aren't supposed to enjoy those.

- I am writing my dissertation! Well, I've written the introduction. I'm trying to write the literature review, but I just haven't read enough literature yet, so I spend a lot of time reading books, going through lists of references and hunting down relevant articles on the internet. Intellectually I know this counts as 'working on my dissertation', but it feels like I'm just flailing around wasting time (especially when the books turn out not to be that useful, which is often) and when I spend whole days doing it I just feel worthless and unproductive (which is another reason why I look forward to working in the shop).

- I am helping a small UK publisher to compile an anthology of Japanese short stories set in Tokyo. This is very interesting work which involves scouting, writing emails to Japanese publishers and literary magazines and writing reader's reports. Of course I am not getting any money for it, and by doing it for free am probably contributing to publishing's horrible unpaid-work-experience culture, but I couldn't turn down scouting/editing/working with Japanese literature/potentially making some useful contacts/helping to MAKE a BOOK.

- I am translating the odd short story, for fun and submission to literary magazines.

- I am thinking about what I want to do when the MA is over. Ideally I think I would like a career made up of things 1, 3 and 4 on this list, but only if there is enough 3 (and things vaguely like 3) around, and if I find people who will pay me money for doing it. You never know...
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Me: What music are you putting on?
Me: What TV show shall we watch tonight?
Me: What kind of tea do you want?

I think Joe is a bit excited about Canada.

(PS We have no maple syrup tea)

Phew :)

May. 9th, 2013 02:04 pm
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Joe's Canada letter finally came through a few minutes ago! Hooray! That was a slightly tense week :/

Also I have done one of my exams and I have two more to go. And the one I've done is the English-to-Japanese one, so I'm relieved I don't have to deal with any of that any more.

...anyway, back to revision.


May. 2nd, 2013 03:05 pm
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YAAY I just got my Canadian visa approval! Now I have A Letter saying I am officially allowed to spend twelve months working in Canada, starting at any point between Now and 25th April 2014. This is really going to happen.

I suppose I'd better start thinking about all that administrative stuff I've been refusing to think about in case I didn't get the approval. Eek! But also yay!

(I hope Joe has received his as well. I sent him a text but he hasn't replied yet. *frets*)


Apr. 19th, 2013 12:43 am
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I just got back from the masterclass, about half an hour ago. It It was amazing. I think today might have been my actual best day of 2013 so far (top three, anyway).

I just feel I didn't want it to end. I love translators, and translating, and talking about translation, and geeking out in pubs with translators afterwards and reminiscing about Japan and arguing about books. Now I need my translation high to wear off so I can go to sleep. I'll tell you all about it later.
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I am starting to feel a little bothered by the fact that I am always the least experienced translator at any gathering of translators I attend. I have just internet-stalked the other seven people who will be doing this masterclass with me next week - five of them make an actual living out of either translating or teaching translation, three have been learning Japanese since before I was born, and all of them have lived in Japan for a number of years that is quite a lot greater than one. On the bright side, I suppose this means I don't have to feel bad about being significantly worse at Japanese than any of them.

I really wish I could just take a few years and go out to work in Japan and improve my Japanese immeasurably and pass JLPT 1 and then come back and do translation workshops, but I don't think Joe would be very happy about it and anyway, we have other plans for the next few years. Oh well - Arthur Waley was a great translator and he never set foot in East Asia, so it just goes to show that it can be done. Though possibly only if you live in the 1920s. And are Arthur Waley.
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I do not like to complain about the weather, but sometimes I just can't help doing it. I am currently wearing:

- Pants
- Vest
- Jeans
- Long-sleeved tunic top
- Thick cardigan
- Thin cardigan with hood
- Dressing gown
- Long socks
- Short socks
- Slippers
- Another dressing gown (being used as a blanket for my knees)
- Fingerless gloves

I have a hot water bottle on my lap. The heating is on. It is snowing outside.

I have honestly stopped believing that spring is ever going to come. It is going to be like this forever and the gas reserves will gradually run down because people need to have the heating on all the time and everything will descend into anarchy and chaos and snow. And then probably a big lion will come along and have to die before winter can end, or something.

God, I'm so cold. I'm quite close to asking Joe if he'd mind giving the whole Canada thing a miss after all and going back to Singapore instead. I'm not sure what the visa situation's like there, but the BBC said they need accountants there the other day, so it must be true.
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I have made £70 today (though I still have to invoice for it), and also been accepted onto a one-day translation masterclass with a Famous Translator later this month! I am winning at April so far!

Also I had a lovely bank holiday weekend - I took two of the four available days off work, and spent them 1) visiting one of Joe's schoolfriends in a commune in Lewisham, 2) warming Catherine's lovely new house, and 3) viewing ARTS followed by GAMES with [profile] _jenjen_, [personal profile] mirrorshard and an assortment of other great people. And today it is sunny! And also being a publishing consultant is really fun. Let me know if you know anybody who needs a publishing consultant.

Also, Pesach is great! Usually I love it until around the fifth day and then get suddenly sick of it, but this year I actually felt like it wasn't long enough. I was quite sad eating my ceremonial post-Pesach pizza. I think it's because this year I wasn't in an office all day surrounded by people eating chametz. Also because Project Shake Up the Seder at Joe's parents' house went really well again - this year there were Lego Plagues as well as interesting bits of discussion, and nobody shouted at anybody else, which was a great improvement on last year. I bet they'll miss us when/if we're not there next year.
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I am having a good week! First there was that thing to be translated a few days ago, and then today somebody on my translators' group posted looking for somebody with knowledge of the children's publishing market and absolutely no knowledge of Italian to proofread a book she'd translated and help her prepare it for submission to UK publishers. So I said I would take a look at it, and she emailed it to me and asked me how much I would charge! I am being paid CASH MONEY for my publishing expertise! This is the best thing. I was a bit taken aback because I was going to do it for free, but there we go, apparently my knowledge is worth something. What a good feeling.

Maybe being a translator/subtitler/copyeditor/literary agent/knower-of-stuff-about-publishing is not such a ridiculous career plan after all.
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