I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms . He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.
For those who are just tuning in, here's the situation: after eighteen years working for NASA and living in New York City, I decided the next logical step was to get a PhD in Medieval Culinary History. I'm sure that makes sense to everyone. The problem, naturally enough, was that we couldn't afford to do it in NYC, burdened as we were with a mortgage and the assorted complications that living in The City (with the definite article and capitalization most assuredly intended) entails. Furthermore, the best place to do such a degree, especially given the focus of my recent MA on late fourteenth century English cookery, was England, and the economics of such a move were awkward, to say the least. So that dream was reluctantly put on a shelf.
Until my beautiful and talented wife came home and said that she'd been talking to some of the people at her office, the Columbia Alumni Association, and it looked like she could probably telecommute. The numbers suddenly changed rather dramatically and it began to look possible. So I applied to Oxford and to York. York, my first choice, said "yes." The rest, axiomatically, is history.
Which brings us more-or-less up to date.
We are now at the stage in the moving process, and have been for some time, where we are doing things and seeing people "for the last time." In some cases, that doesn't mean "forever" but probably means "for a few years," but that only softens the blow rather than avoiding it completely. We were up the first weekend of July at an event that we've been going to pretty regularly for a decade or so, and although we'll see many of those people again, we probably will never make it to that specific gathering again, and that's a strange feeling.
We've also been quite distracted as we make the plans for an international move, a complicated proposition at any time, complicated by the fact that I am a, to use the US term, "non-traditional student." In practical terms that means I have a wife, a cat, and stuff - a life, in short - of a richness and complexity which the average grad student just out of undergrad would not have. University housing, for example, will not work for us - the stuff and the need for my wife to have a solid Internet connection would probably be enough to kill it, but the cat is a complete deal-killer. The established life means that we need a car, which presents some complications of its own. Then there's the simple fact that we don't want to live in a city anymore. That may change, of course, somewhere down the line, but it may not. So, to recap - we need to find housing, a vehicle and assorted other bits and bobs that a less, ah, baggage-enhanced (in all senses of the word) student would not. More of that anon.
So we are off on an adventure, just the three of us - my wife, my cat and me. We're all excited, except the cat who has no idea what is to come, but also a little scared. We're negotiating half-a-dozen bureaucracies from two separate countries, which is always a barrel of laughs, and trying to keep it all together. We're going to a new life, which means leaving an old one behind, only we don't want to leave it entirely behind - we've got dear friends and indelible memories here - and one of the things that's nice about being only an Aspiring Luddite, rather than a fully functional Luddite, is that we can use the Internet to keep those dear ones close, even as we move farther away in meatspace.
Stay tuned for more tales of the adventures of A Luddite (and his wife and cat) Abroad! (With apologies to Twain.)
PS: Subsequent postings will include more pictures of England, I promise.
Luddite'sLog, Early August, 2013
© 2013 Jeff Berry
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