It’s been a month now, or just over to be counting true, that I have been living in the city of the dreaming spires. I figured now might be a good time to have a look back and see how it has all gone.
I’ll make no bones about it, from the first I have loved Oxford. I love the buildings, I love the vibe, I love the area. I am at the northern edge of my geographical comfort zone (till you reach the Borders anyway) but it still feels southern enough for me. Being only an hour-ish from Southampton and London by train does help. A lot! I have yet to explore the greater Oxfordshire area, but I’ve only been here a month and I don’t have a car (or know anyone with a car) – give me a chance.
As for the job. Oh, the job. *sigh of contentment* I have been having meetings over the past month with various people from different departments around the division and they all keep asking me the same questions:
1) How am I enjoying Oxford
2) How am I enjoying the job
3) How did I get into publishing
4) Why did you get into publishing
My answer to 1) and 2) is still at the bouncing-up-and-down on the chair, squeeeeing like an excited toddler hocked-up on Halloween candy, stage. I quite simply haven’t stopped grinning from ear to ear since I walked through the door on my first day. There’s got to be a down-side around here somewhere, but I have yet to stumble across it. I reckon it’s hiding in the bottom of the author contracts filing cabinet (my nemesis), waiting to jump out and attack me. In the manner of the bogarts from Harry Potter, it is probably going to take the form of a freakishly important interest list that slipped down the back of my In Tray, never to be seen till this moment… It may not sound scary to you, but to me, that’s like total collywobbles time. That, and credit control running after me, pitchforks waving, yelling “you set this customer up as a 97 when they are obviously a 99!!!”
Worst-case scenarios which have clearly been influenced by the subject matter I spend my days surrounded by (kids books can be really scary!) aside, I am loving the job.
How and Why I got into publishing are questions whose answers I am still working on. “I just love books” is a pretty safe bet. It is nice to be surrounded by people who – in the case of my boss on Friday night, literally – throw titles at you and demand you have great conversations about them. Getting more into it, I keep coming back to the last couple of years working for SCC. Time and again, we worked with clients who had only the most basic levels of literacy, if that, and they kept bring up 1) how alienated from mainstream life they felt and 2) how this alienation at least contributed to the assorted lifestyle choices which had them coming to our offices at the end of the day. There is no doubt in my mind that education is the silver bullet to so many problems. Part of that is getting children hooked on reading, and getting them hooked young. How do you hook them? By creating beautiful, funny and engaging books that they want to read.
The best bit of my job so far was last week when, as a result of a massive tidy out of the office (as an aside, I think it might finally have hit them that when they hired someone who liked to organise, that’s what they got), I had a huge pile of old proofs and slightly battered books. It was the recycling or the waiting embrace of some hapless infant for them, and I chose the infant. I spent a happy half hour sorting through the pile, picking out those I think he will enjoy, and those I think he SHOULD read. I am not expecting all of them to be read, or enjoyed, but even if just one sparks an interest in a new author or genre… The desire to go down the library and see what else there is out there… Then that was a good day.
Corrupting new minds. Mwhahahaaaaa. Yup, that’s why I got into publishing *devil*
OK Cas, I can hear you all mutter, there has to be something that isn’t going so rosy, because, well, this is you we’re talking about. There’s always something.
I am missing the folks from Southampton more than I thought I would. I hadn’t realised quite how meshed I was in certain networks, till they were no longer just down the road from me. Even if I didn’t see them every day, just knowing they were there made a huge difference. I have never been a big one for labels, but I am clearly more “alt” than I had figured, because in Oxford I am surrounded by lovely, lovely people – who are all very normal. Or rather, all very wacky, but in their own Oxford way, which isn’t quite my way. For example, I am the only one I know up here with any ink or multiple piercings, let alone cropped purple hair! I certainly can’t imagine any of them rocking out to NIN at the Dungeon!
I am comfortable around the people here and a making good friends, plus picking up old friendships, but always I am feeling a certain subtle push to tone down bits of me. There aren’t the people, yet, who I can totally be myself around. It is a little bit draining, so I find myself dashing down on the train to badger Neko for tea and corsets (not a euphemism). I am not expecting it to be like this forever, however. I know for sure these things take time, and that it took time for me to settle into Southampton. I will find “my people” here in Oxford. In the meantime, I am spending a lot more time on Facebook!
Will I stay here in Oxford? How can you ask me that after just a month! Right now, I am loving it here. The city is the perfect blend of town and country – not too big, not too small. The job is one with prospects in a field I know is for me. I am 26 now and yes, certain nesting tendencies are starting to make slight nudges in the back of my brain. I want to settle down. I want a place of my own, to decorate as I will, and to have a pet cat. The student style of relocating every six months/year no longer seems quiet so fun. I want to get my stuff out of storage. I want all my books in one house, not scattered across three counties! At the same time, I get itchy feet. After three, four years in a place I feel the need to find somewhere new. New horizons. New people. So I have just moaned for two paragraphs about how I have yet to find people I can be myself around, but I am loving the process of finding them anew. The thought of a whole life in one place appeals to the 2.4 side of my nature, but mostly it is giving me the heeby-jeebies. Perhaps what I really want isn’t a place, it is a person. Someone to travel on with me. Now there’s a thought…
Anything else? Well, I fit into a pair of size 14 jeans for the first time in many a year. And the Aspiration Trousers! They are a leetle snug still, but with a tunic over the top they look ace. So what if the silly diet nurse’s scales say I am not loosing anything. My dimensions are slowly, surely shrinking, and that is good to hear finally.
P.S. I’m getting another tattoo. Don’t tell my father.