Musings of an Englishman who literally quit his life in Devon in mid-2012 to move to Tijuana to love a girl.
They ended up in San Diego where he became a TV anchorman (yes really...), they got married, and now they're living in England together.
Simple as that really.
Follow your heart, who knows where it will lead.

Crazy. Beautiful. Madness.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

"Superstition ain't the way, no, no, no..."

IF WE were superstitious we’d probably never have agreed to hold such a life-changing event on Friday 13th.
But then again, my grandfather was born on Friday 13th and he was the most amazing person to make an appearance in my life.
So, what better day to get MARRIED.
Yes, enough of the fun and games, it’s time to be all grown-up, and to exchange vows.
That day will be the culmination of a dream. A dream we’ve both been dreaming with our eyes wide open for little over 18 months.
You know the story by now right…?

We met on Myspace and emailed back and forth for seven YEARS before finally meeting and falling in love? We never spoke on the phone before we met on ‘vacation’, never Skyped, never texted… just emailed.
Cue English boy saying goodbye to all his family and friends, quitting his nice life in the UK, and moving to Tijuana - of all places - to be with the beautiful Jacky.
Imagine You’ve Got Mail, but more tacos than Tom Hanks.
As readers of this blog will know I proposed on top of the London Eye last Christmas at the tail-end of Jacky’s first ever visit to Europe.

Diamonds are forever

The idea of me proposing, overlooking the capital of my country, and offering her a ring from her home country, was too priceless a moment to dismiss.
Anyhow within a couple of months of us arriving back into Jacky’s family home in Mexico, I got news that U.S. Immigration were finally going to let me in to accept the job at U-T TV in San Diego.
I had to move to San Diego in April, leaving behind Jacky in Tijuana because - as a Mexican citizen with a tourist visa - she couldn't legally live with me.
So since April we’ve been continuing our cross-border relationship, literally only seeing each other at weekends.
While this might sound like a fairly ‘normal’ situation for some couples whose lives are governed by work, our situation is far from ideal.
To visit me in San Diego, Jacks has had to wait in line at the San Ysidro border for anything up to five hours, in doing so wasting much of a two-day weekend we would have otherwise spent together.
San Ysidro is the busiest border crossing in the world. Fact. And it’s dirty, loud and generally horrible.

The San Ysidro border - dirty, loud, and generally horrible

While Jacks has applied for a special ‘Sentri’ pass to enable her to pass quicker, we’ve decided to push ahead and get married to avoid any more delays and frustration.
That way we can finally live together legally here on this side of the border.
So we’ve booked our date in San Diego as oppose to Tijuana.
Has any one of you ever tried to get married abroad? In a non-English speaking country? Without booking it all through a dedicated wedding agency?
It’s a nightmare.
In fact, it’s worse than a nightmare. And it seems no two people can give you the same answer about how to go about booking everything, and making sure everything is actually legal.
If you Google it, you’ll get literally 101 reasons ‘not’ to marry in Mexico.
Every forum poses as many questions as answers. And they’re mostly from ‘Senor Steve’ in Mexico City.
We initially looked into getting married in Baja California (the northern tip of Mexico), but it quickly became apparent that the stress involved would be too great.
I’m pretty sure that most weddings involving one-half of the couple being a foreigner to Mexico will end in divorce given the hassles presented.
From what we eventually established, to get married in Mexico I would have to:
a). Take a blood test to ensure that I don’t have Aids;
b). Go to a mandatory marriage guidance group – BEFORE the actual wedding;
c). Fly home to the UK to get original ‘official’ documents (Can you imagine asking your mum to source your original birth certificate 35 years after being born?!);
d). Pay for someone (undoubtedly a lawyer) in Mexico to translate the above ‘official’ documents at a stupidly inflated price; and
e). Pay someone else a whole bunch of money to do a handful of things we never really got to the bottom of…
By the time we worked out that we would need to do all of the above and more, just to get married in Mexico, we were ready to put the whole thing on the back burner for a time.
But then, as if by magic, I ended up downtown in the San Diego County Administration Building on a job for U-T TV.

The San Diego County Administration Building

“It’s a sign,” my cameraman said to me glancing up at the wall in the entrance.
And sure enough, it was a ‘sign’. It was a sign to say that the ‘marriages’ department was upstairs.
I popped up, explained that I was a “British guy” with a “Mexican fiancée” who wanted to get married and the response…?
“Why don’t you just do it here…?”
No blood tests, no official documents needed, no translation, and no need to book the divorce hearing at the same time as the wedding.
Job done.
So yes… come rain or shine, (who am I kidding this is California!) we’re getting married on the lawn in front of the ocean on Friday 13th September, 2013.
In six-and-a-half weeks’ time no less.
While of course we’d love to see all our family and friends, we understand that – due to work commitments and money – it’s simply not possible.
But given the unusual nature of our Anglo-Latin relationship, we’re pressing ahead because we simply want to be ‘together’ – without needing to stand in line and show our passport.
Jacky is the reason I'm here after all.
So Friday 13th… Crazy. Beautiful. Madness.

“When you believe in things that you don't understand…
Then you suffer…
Superstition ain't the way, no, no, no…” – Stevie Wonder - Superstition

Twitter: @tristan_nichols

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Comic-Con - home of the brave (and the geek)

WHEN you glance up from performing your, um… business... at the men’s urinals at Comic-Con, I can tell you that the immediate view takes on an almost Mos Eisley Space Port-type feel.
Momentarily forgetting where you are, you’re suddenly reminded when you realize you’re standing next to Darth Vader, Boba Fett, an ewok, and other familiar faces from your favourite sci-fi and super-hero films.
All have moved their plastic cod-pieces to one side to pee, and stand silent conducting their call of nature.
One can only imagine the scene in the Death Star canteen – as comedienne Eddie Izzard pointed out… there “MUST” have been one right?
My first ever experience of the world’s largest comic book, video game and movie expo has been one to remember for countless reasons – the bathroom experience of course being one.
Being new to the U.S. and of course San Diego, a lot of things are new to me – Comic-Con being one.
I now live a stone’s throw away from the Convention Centre where’s it’s staged.
I’m sure 10 months out of the year the venue is quiet and largely ignored. But for these four days while Comic-Con is on, it’s the home of the great and good, the geeks and of course, their ‘geek-chic’.
It’s the one time of the year when a casually or smartly dressed person looks out of place, and looks like the ‘weirdo’ in the room.
Of course, being a die-hard Star Wars fan, when I discovered that I had been assigned to cover the event, I rubbed my hands with glee.
This was my moment; this was my magic moment.
You see, I see life as a giant tick list.
I’ve been lucky enough to land a Latin fiancée; a TV career; I live in California; and now I get to dress as a Storm Trooper – and get paid to do so.
Okay, yes I’m smug and I'm wearing my chufty badge with pride.
Rather than take the piss out of me, Jacks encourages such behaviour.
“You’ve never done that before?!” Jacks asked me genuinely surprised.
Not until now.
For four days I can dress like a complete pillock, and I have the pleasure of my boss congratulating me for doing so.

Let's not let the silly little Galactic War get in the way of our new-found friendship...

Chef Vader - Sith Lord of the Barbecue

Geek-chic is definitely the underlining theme of Comic-Con.
In a three-hour stretch I saw enough make-up, hair extensions and plastic to rival Pamela Anderson’s wardrobe.
Batman, Poison Ivy, Thor, Captain America, Mulder and Scully, a ‘hot’ Sherlock Holmes, Breaking Bad’s Walter White, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Boba Fett and Darth Vader of course, Jedis and even Transformers were all represented in a big way.
The Americans are not known for holding back, and this is the moment for these geeks to shine.
When asked what they look forward to most at the annual show, most say they look forward to dressing up, and being the ‘geek’ they usually hide away from view.
One mentioned he was just pleased to show off his mum’s talents making his Viking costume – said Arnold, aged 37.
The stars of the big screen also endorse and encourage such behaviour.
The first day of Comic-Con saw appearances from Mulder and Scully (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson) from The X-Files; and Data (Brent Spiner) and Worf (Michael Dorn) from Star Trek: The Next Generation, among others.
They largely turn up for signing sessions.
No photography allowed, and a ticket to meet and gain a signed picture of Scully for instance set you back $60 (£40).
Pretty harsh for someone to pay so much for someone who was a star 20 years ago.

A Warner Bros signing event at Comic-Con

Some big-hitters are also in town tonight.
Arnie and Sylvester Stallone are hosting a night previewing their new movie ‘Escape’ at a downtown cinema.
Bizarrely funds for marketing the movie appear to have dried up as invitations for the ‘special fan screening’ were printed on photocopied red A4 paper.
Not quite the mass PR campaign of their heyday.

Not much of a marketing budget then...?

Apparently George Clooney is in town tomorrow or Saturday, as well as Simon Pegg, and cast members from Dexter, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and other huge HBO shows.
Red carpets are appearing all over town, as well as stretched limos and the security guys who walk round with one finger constantly in their ear almost like they've been the victim of a joke involving super glue.
The actors, producers and directors host a series of special ‘panels’ at Comic-Con which are open to ticket or ‘badge’, holders to attend.
Often 10 or 15 minutes of the big blockbuster releases are previewed during for the event.
Last year audience members saw 15 minutes of the new Superman movie.
Pity it was shit really.
These panels are apparently the events to be at during Comic-Con.
We’ll be hoping to catch one or two tomorrow. And we'll see if we can snag an interview with a star or two.
However, we won’t be paying $60 for the privilege.
Of course alongside the panels and celeb meet-and-greets are the booths and stands where the geeks can have their picture taken next to a piece of plywood which featured somewhere in Thor.
These booths also offer the chance for people to spend $500 or some insane amount of money on a shiny piece of plastic or a mask.
And these geeks queue - sorry, line up - for hours... literally HOURS.
I have to admit I have spent a fair bit of money in the last few years on nostalgic pieces such as Generation 1 Transformers, but these geeks are something else.
I dare you... engage one in conversation about why a My Little Pony is worth $350, or why a bobble-head doll is worth $100.
Seriously, these guys are onto something. Apparently these things can sell for three or four times the original amount in just a few years.
Who would know?

Comic-Con in full flow

Alongside all that are countless exhibits and stands from the likes of LucasFilm, Warner Bros, Sony, Hasbro, Marvel, 20th Century Fox, Lego, and DC Entertainment.


In a carbon-hydrate cage of emotion
It’s fair to say that this city, national and indeed international event, is not so much a big, but MASSIVE deal.
"It's bigger than the Oscars," a local photographer told me last night.
"The Oscars is one day, this runs over four."
The 130,000+ tickets to this year's event sold out in one-and-a-half hours. Apparently tickets for next year's July event - which has already been booked and confirmed - go on sale this weekend.
I get it now. And I’m not going to waste a single second enjoying myself - even if someone asks: “aren’t you a little short to be a Storm Trooper…?”

Friday, 12 July 2013

Caffeine club and the patter of tiny Royal feet

“GRANDE green tea frappuccino, no whip, six scoops macha, no classic syrup, non fat please…” asked my caffeine-starved cameraman at Starbucks earlier this week.
I literally stood back from the long queue in amazement.
“That’s some order… How do you even remember that?” I asked.
“Easy. It’s what I always have.”
Cue wide-eyed employee beckoning to me to step forward…
“Good morning sir, and what can I get for you…?”
“Wow… um… latte… please?” I mustered, stumbling for words.
That’s all I could muster.
Talk about being upstaged.
The words skipped off my colleague’s tongue like a young over-eager thespian with his first crack at the Broadway stage.
I could never match that. How could I?
I didn’t even know what the hell half his order was.
“I used to live with a Japanese guy who claimed that that was the closest thing to how they actually drink their green tea frappuccinos in Japan,” my colleague explained.
I still felt like I’d lost a rap battle with Eminem in front of a packed audience.
“The only thing I change is the milk,” he said nonchalantly.
“It’s like a thousand calories and I don’t want to drink all of my food for the day in one hit.”
By now my head was bowed and I felt embarrassed picking up my sad little latte from the counter.
You can say what you want about our American allies but you know, you have to appreciate their direct approach.
They know what they want. And if they want it, they’ll ask for it.
No matter how complicated it is.
He told me that he felt sure that to some, it was a “challenge”, and “part of the game” when going to Starbucks or another well-known coffee shop.
To confuse staff?!
“Maybe it’s a status thing?” he pondered.
We English are so reserved. We don’t want, or like, fuss.
That’s why over here in San Diego I start most questions… “Sorry to bother you, would you mind awfully…”
I can’t help it. I seem to turn my Englishness up to ‘11’ when I’m surrounded by Americans.
Personally, I’m non-fuss when it comes to ordering wine at a restaurant too.
I spend 10 minutes looking at the huge list of wines and then – more-often-than-not – ultimately ask for a glass of ‘house white’.
There’s been a lot of comedy moments in recent times in Starbucks coffee shops.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a fairly healthy caffeine addiction.
A little while ago, after ordering my drink the Starbucks staff member asked me for my name.
“Ahhhh…. Tristan,” I said glancing up while looking at my phone.
The result…

Kind of close I guess...

Earlier on this week we were in another Starbucks in Mission Valley. I ordered a venti caramel macchiato (yes, I was pushing the boat out on this particular day), and waited patiently sat at a table ready for my order to be handed over.
I mustn’t have heard my name being called out but I did, out of the corner of my eye, see my name on the side of a cup which a disheveled-looking woman had picked up and claimed.
It turned out that the woman in question was a tramp, or ‘bum’ as they’re called over here.
As she was walking out she glanced up, saw me looking at her and the aforementioned venti caramel macchiato, and quickly – and very obviously – licked the top of the lid to claim it.
I mean, she properly tongued the thing as I sat, open-mouth, in bewilderment.
I felt like shouting at her, but then spotted her T-shirt which said ‘Lifeguard’.
I became almost stricken with guilt that I might just verbally abuse a former lifesaver or hero.
So I let her have her moment of glory.
The cat got the cream. Bitch.
Another daily fascination over here right now is the imminent arrival of the ‘Royal’ baby.

Global coverage
“She’s hot,” is the reaction from most of my American friends and colleagues when we talk about Kate Middleton, or The Duchess of Cambridge, as she’s known.
Turning on the TV it’s bizarre to see every news crew in the world – or so it seems – camped outside the hospital waiting for news of the patter of tiny future king or queen feet.
CNN and other US networks keep jumping back to ‘live’ coverage of the scene – despite the fact that there is no update at all.

No 'news' is still 'news' I guess

News teams on standby

While of course Americans have their President, they do LOVE the Royal family and all the pomp and circumstance which goes along with having one.
I think it’s fair to say that many people here don’t really care for the Queen. They do however care for Prince William and Kate, and of course Prince Harry or the ‘rock star Royal’ as he’s known following his naked Las Vegas antics a little while ago.
One things for sure, with all the sleepless nights awaiting William and Kate, they won’t be seen queuing at Starbucks with the threat of their coffee cup being licked.