Sunday, April 5, 2009


The significance of purchasing a bed, a quality one, especially, is the permanence of the act. It implies that -- with my three-year university experience nearly complete -- I intend to stay here for a while longer. At least until I've used up the five-year guarantee on the bed.

I've been doing a lot of that sort of thing, lately. A new bed, an 18-month phone contract, an expensive hoover, talk of new bookshelves. These are the simple domestic acts of a person who isn't planning on upping sticks any time soon.

But have you ever had a friend who has gone through divorce? They will suddenly ramp up the praise for their significant other and then two months later it is mentioned offhand that, oh, Helen won't be joining us down the pub because, uhm, we've split up.

So I lie in my new bed and stare at the ceiling and find myself thinking about all the places I would rather be than here. London, Dublin, St. Paul, Chicago, Boston, Austin, and on. I picture my life in each of these places, walk down the streets that I know, eat at the places I know, hang out with the people I know.

This week Houston has been high on the list. Which is a strange one. No one dreams of Houston; people in Houston are reading this and wondering if perhaps I'm talking about some other Houston. The Scottish village near Glasgow Airport, perhaps. But the combination of longing for legitimately hot weather, of looking forward to my summer trip to the United States (which will entail a visit to family in the Houston area), and seeing pictures of Dani's back yard have all strangely combined to leave me thinking "Golly, I'd kinda like to move back to Houston."

This is similar to what I used to do when thinking about Cardiff, before actually moving here. I don't know if you do this, but I am always guilty of slightly altering my socio-economic status when picturing myself in different places. I have a bad habit of picturing a different me in that different place.

For example, let's say you're wherever you are and dreaming about life in New York City. Of course you place yourself square in Manhattan, and of course you assume that you will be going to art galleries and eating at cafés and on and on. Conveniently ignoring that you do not now have the money to live in the poshest part of whatever town you're living in. And you haven't been to an art gallery since that time in high school when you went solely because you thought it would help in your effort to get up Emma Carrbridge's blouse. So, in fact you are imagining a physical move, a social/intellectual move and an economic move.

I do that. I play this ridiculous game of creating The Life Ideal in some other locale in which everything is already in place. Because it's the building that I don't like. Establishing is boring and challenging. And a part of me rebels against it. Some men can't commit to a woman, I can't commit to a place.

"Does unman yn debyg i adre'
Ond mae adre'n debyg iawn i chdi..."

But that said, I am establishing. Slowly. Not just in buying a load of appliances that would be useless in the States, but in real ways. There's the master's degree, of course. About a month ago I interviewed to do a master's in Welsh with an emphasis on creative writing, at Cardiff University. I've yammered endlessly about this on my Welsh blog but I'm not sure I've mentioned it here. I am still waiting to hear back on the decision. According to the university's website, the decision "can take anything from two weeks to a few months." And I wasn't really able to read the mood during my interview.

When I was talking about the whole thing with Owen, his general feeling was that it would be silly not to accept me. But then, Owen's my friend. And he had had a few pints. And, if you were part of the decision-making process, and perhaps Owen's line of thinking had occurred to you, wouldn't some part of you seek to deny me just to prove a point: "Ha, ha, Chris Cope. We are not beholden to the inevitable. We choose our destiny at Cardiff University and you, my Yanqui friend, are denied!"

The foundation of Owen's thinking is that I have a book coming out in summer. Arguably being a published author is good qualification to do a master's in creative writing. We'll see. Either way, work on the book carries forward. I got my contract about a week ago, which outlined all my rights in terms of how much money I get for this thing or that thing. If someone turns my book into a screenplay I will score the bulk of the profit. But in the world of reality, of advance sums and royalties on sales, it is not what you'd call amazing.

I'm not really complaining. A first book is a first book. That's what I'm most happy about. And with the existence of the contract there is an obligation for the publisher to print within six months. I don't really care about dates, simply that it is real. Assuming no major snafu, the book is going to be published. And that is really cool. As far as I know, however, we are still aiming to publish in time for Eisteddfod.

In the meantime, I have six essays due in less than a month. I have thus far only finished one.

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