16 December 2014

On going home...

So my cousin once said to me, “Don't be afraid to go. If you go and it sucks, you can always go home again.” Well, it didn't suck but I still find myself home again...and it's really weird. After living in England for almost two years, it was a bit of a blow to the ego to find myself back in the United States. But it was California and California can be very awesome in so many ways (she says as she ignores the droughts and high cost of living and never being able to wear a sweater) and overall it wasn't so bad. In fact, it was kind of really good...except for the droughts and high cost of living and never being able to wear a sweater. About 8 months ago, I took Henry and we went back to Wisconsin for 3 weeks. It was just a visit. We wanted to see family. It was also March and Wisconsin was still knee deep (literally) in the polar vortex of snow and cold. Andy joined us for a week. For some reason, we decided after that visit that we would move back there...here. We first thought we'd move April 2015. Then it moved to October 2014. In the end, we stepped foot in this frozen tundra on September 17, 2014.

When Andy and I decided we were going to move to Wisconsin, we didn't tell any of our California friends about it until 6 weeks before we left. It's not that it was a huge secret, we just didn't want to get any shit from our friends about leaving what is essentially paradise (if you ignore the droughts, high cost of living and oh, did I forget wild fires?). We needn't of worried. When we told our friends our plans and our reason for leaving, they all completely understood. We didn't get an ounce of shit from any of them. You know who we got shit from? Our friends in Wisconsin who could not fathom for a minute why we would leave California for here. While heartbreaking, knowing that they had lived through the hell of last winter, I kind of understood (read: Yeah, thanks a bunch Wisconsin friends, excuse me while I cry in my brandy old fashioned.)

So why did we move? It's not like we didn't love the weather. It wasn't that we didn't love our friends. It wasn't that we were bored from all the things to do. We moved because we have Henry...and we wanted our little boy to not only grow up around family, but to also grow up in a house. Not a triplex with the landlord banging on bongos to the left and the neighbors to the right blaring books on tape at 7 AM Saturday mornings. We wanted him to go to a school where his friends wouldn't ask him why his parents didn't drive a Mercedes and vacation in the Maldives every year. No matter which way we tried to swing it, we couldn't do those things in California. So here we are...in Wisconsin. Yes, I had to buy a coat.

Maybe some of you are wondering where Wisconsin is. It's not a foreign thing. I had people in California who mixed up Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin. Wisconsin borders one of those big lakes to the north...you know, near Canada. Wisconsinites talk funny but not as bad as Canadians with their 'a-boot''s and 'eh''s. 'Happy Days' was based here. So was 'That 70's Show'. We are known for our cheese, beer, brats and Green Bay Packers. It's close to Chicago (ish)! Still confused? Pull out a goddamn map.

Look for the state that looks like an oven mitt.

So what's it like being home? I admit that I was a bit depressed for awhile. I feel I was in mourning. It was like how I was depressed when Henry was first born. I mourned the fact that my carefree childless life was over. I was happy to have Henry but still had to grasp that I'd never have that life again. It's the same being back home. I had to mourn my old California life, try to say good-bye, try not to keep thinking that we'd be back there someday (to live). It's been better recently. It helps seeing Henry thrive in this environment. He loves his grandparents, uncles and aunts, and especially his cousins that are all around his age. He loves running across the field in my parent's backyard to feed the horses carrots. He loves the two parks by our house and all the friends he's been making. He loves wearing snow boots. He's happy and that's what matters.

The boy, happily throwing rocks into Lake Michigan even though it's fuck-all degrees out.

You know what I love? I love owning a house. It's not my dream house and it needs a lot of work but it's our house. Did you know we bought the house without ever setting foot in it? It's true. We had to trust the photos from the realtor (ha ha ha! THEY LIE) and the opinion of my dad (better, but he doesn't appreciate modern kitchens like I do) as the sources for our purchasing decision. It turned out alright. Though I wish someone would have told me that many times when you buy a house the previous owners don't clean the place before you move in. OH MY GOD. I hope never to have to scrap off three years of pubic hair from a shower ever again. Feel free to gag a bit when you read that. I hope to never have to scrap off ant traps from the top of my kitchen cabinets again. I hope to never have to wonder what that gigantic 2 foot oil/dirt/fur mark was in the living room again. And previous owners...WHAT THE FUCK IS UP WITH ALL THESE CABLES??

So that's what's been up. I finally decided to try to start writing again. It's time. I've joined up with the YMCA and they have a child watch (where Henry is currently playing very happily in) and since I screwed up my knee (urg) I can't work out but why not use the child watch while I write since dammit, I'm paying for it. They did just filled for bankruptcy so I might only be able to write for a month before they close down (um...yay?).

How are you all doing?

08 July 2013

Sitting on this stinky ass couch...

So I've been trying to find a way to get back into writing. During any given day my mind will come up with an idea and I think briefly about writing it down but then something sticky will be on the counter and by the time I'm done wiping the sticky stuff off (and emptying and reloading the dishwasher and washing out the coffee pot and putting the 5 Matchbox cars back in the living room from where they had mysteriously found their way to the boxes of raisins in the cupboard) I will have completely forgotten the idea. The ones I do remember tend to be one off statements, more suitable for Facebook. For example, I was very prepared to tell you about my recent bout of memory loss. Or really, more to the point that I have recently been forgetting to flush the toilet. It's not exactly Alzheimer's but I feel like a real asshole if this forgetfulness occurs in a public toilet. I have no idea where I was prepared to go with that. I was also going to tell you about my landlord (who lives next door) and his penchant for playing the bongos. I could go a bit further with a post on bongos since I have a great distaste for them (I personally think they should be banned outside of remote islands where stoned students tend to go “find themselves”) but I think now you all get the gist so fuck that one too.

I was once told that great letter writing begins with describing your surroundings, no matter how mundane. I actually told this to my best friend, Beth, and we now tend to begin all cards and correspondence with, “Here I am, sitting on this stinky ass couch drinking a cold glass of $5 red...” I guess after all this time, it's the only way to start...

So here I am, sitting on this stinky ass couch, drinking a cold glass of $5 red. To be fair, I washed the all coverings of this couch a couple months ago and with it, 2 years of baby spit up and other assorts. My kid is 2 now so we don't tend to worry about spit up anymore. However, now that he is two and the couch has been unprotected from his hands since I last washed these coverings, I can not promise that I am not sitting in 3 layers of chicken nugget grease, grape juice drips and the occasional raisin that has more than one time been confused for a wayward piece of actual shit. Also to be fair, I think the wine was $6.99. I found it by the bananas at the grocery store. The bottle of wine that is. It was an odd place to find a display of wine, right there by the bananas. Like if one went specifically into Ralph's to get a banana and then thought, “I could really go for some cheap wine but the wine aisle is like, 10 aisles away and I can't really be bothered but oh joy! There's some right here! Hurray!” To be even more fair than I have this entire paragraph, there are some serious marketing geniuses at Ralph's as I honestly had no intention of buying a bottle of wine that day but I was buying bananas.

Also right now, Andy is swearing at his vaping apparatus. Spell check doesn't recognize the word 'vaping' but I'm sure it will be added to Merriam Webster by next year. Since I live in California, I have no idea how big something is in other parts of the world. Is vaping popular where you are? It is here. Andy has quit smoking completely and now is a vapper. Ha! A vapper – like Darth Vapper. He started vaping back in February and has convinced a good populace at our local to give it a go. I have a couple vaping thingies that Andy has supplied to me in hopes that I will have as much success breaking away from Marlboro as he has. Alas, the will power is not strong in this one (I'm totally trying to do a 'Star Wars' tie-in there) and I've only managed to marginally cut down. Because I'm always convinced I will one day wake up and be magically cured of the demon tobacco, I have quit buying whole cartons of cigarettes. Obviously this means that I've been getting more exercise as I walk to the shop every other day instead of once a week.

While I'm sitting on this somewhat stinky ass couch, drinking my $6.99 bottle of wine and Andy swears at his vaping apparatus, the Roku box is telling me that it's 7:50 PM PST. ← That was the segue in telling you that we don't have cable. Have I told you that already? That we don't have cable, or a satellite dish or whatever? Because we don't, we have internet television using the Roku. I honestly thought I would hate it, and in many ways I do still hate it (seriously CBS, I hate you and you're unwillingness to contribute content to Hulu)(so stop making your programs so damn addictive so I will stop caring), but in other ways it's been pretty good. I have made it my personal mission to re-watch every single Amazing Race season starting from Season 1 (thanks to Hulu). I tried to make it my personal mission to end world hunger but the US Post Office kept sending back all those shepherd pies I had made for Ethiopia so I thought 'the Amazing Race' was the next best thing. At present, I'm on Season 12, which is pretty good (or pathetic depending on your viewpoint) considering it's only July. I have had more than one (very non sexual) dreams about Phil Keoghan. The last one was where I was at a party and he was going to give me my Travelocity prize but my cousin went and got him stoned so he forgot. I try to not to bore anyone but Andy with my dreams (you're welcome Andy) but I wanted to clarify how non-sexual my Phil Keoghan dreams are.

Lastly, while I'm sitting on this somewhat stinky ass couch, drinking my $6.99 bottle of wine, Andy quietly vaping his apparatus that he has since fixed, and the Roku box is telling me that it's 8:20 PM PST and therefore I should be watching another episode of 'the Amazing Race' lest I get behind, I remind myself that I am now 39. ← That's my segue in telling you that I had a birthday. It was a shit birthday really so I won't bother going into it. I did get a gnome duck which I called Durome (Duck-Gnome)(I just realized that there is no 'R' in either 'duck' or 'gnome' so it's a stupid ass name but I thought it was hilarious when I named him that so fuck it) which I decided to wear on my head. It's not still on my head, in fact, I have no idea where it's wandered off to (something tells me to check by the raisins) but I did have it on my head for the last couple hours of my 'special day' (a day that my kid punched me in the face because he wasn't allowed to take his battery operated firetruck into the bath). So there's that then.


03 May 2013

Making Wisconsin Proud

So I saw this and I really had to share.  It's another Bloody Mary, I know.    But it's a damn impressive Bloody Mary, and it's from O'Davey's Irish Pub & Restaurant in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. 

My only question is...what happens if you get thirsty before you make it through all the salty snacks?  It's almost like you order this as your meal and order another drink on the side.   Oh wait!  It's Wisconsin - the Bloody Mary will come with a beer chaser.   Problem solved.


27 February 2013

...in which we say Good-Bye for now.

So it appears I haven't been around this space much lately. I know this partly because the date of my late post glares at me every time I check this page (in truth, only to check my list on the side to see if other people are more active with their blogs than myself) and partly because people I know who also read this blog have been ragging on me to write something new. I'd like to apologize, I really would, but in truth my heart just hasn't been on writing as of late. Sure, I could bore you with half assed posts where I was just writing for the sake of writing but it would bore you and it would bore me. All I've been left with really is guilt. Guilt for not keeping up. Guilt for hiding away so long I've lost ¾ of my previous readers. Guilt on my life not appearing to be as interesting as it was. Guilt guilt guilt-ity guilt.

 I wish I could say why I haven't felt like writing. In all honestly, I've been out of sorts on the whole in the last recent months. The move is finally over. We unpacked the very last of our overseas boxes last week as my dad (the cabinetry genius) finally finished the entertainment center I asked him to build for me as a Christmas present. I think I might have some sort of post-expat depression going on. Things are remarkably the same as they were two years ago when I last lived here. The kid and the lack of working are the only differences. I sometimes forget that I ever lived in England at all. It's only been five months since our return but it might as well have been something I read about in a book once. The only thing I've really held onto is that I still say fucking “cheers” as a thank-you (yes, it does annoy the crap out of me that I do that). I don't know. I know that moving back here was the best choice for me and my family but there's also this huge sense of failure. I can't help but think there could have been something we could have done that would have changed everything. But que, sera sera. It still is pretty awesome being back here in the States, in California with the sun, at the pub with all our friends....I just don't know if I have the enthusiasm to write about it just yet.

There have been thoughts about closing down this blog altogether. You know, consider this my expat blog and close the chapter on it. I just can't bring myself to do it quite yet. I still think these damn badgers with their damn knives have something to say, eventually. I have to get over this funk to pull it off though. To find that enthusiasm that makes writing easy and the results somewhat amusing. I'm just not there quite yet unfortunately. For the ¼ of you who have stuck around this long, I thank you. I am almost positively sure that I'll be back here writing regularly again some day soon. Ta-ra (as they say) for now.

22 January 2013

It was a beardiful night

So I have this friend, Andrea. I've known Andrea since the very first week I was in California, back in 2000. At the rate of sounding like my (all since recently deceased grandmas), she's a funny old gal. I can get away with calling her old because we've been friends so long and because she knows damn well that even though she's 9 years older than me, I've never thought of her anything but the same age as myself. We used to knock around quite a bit, way back then. I'd go as far to say as we were inseparable for those first two years – it was rare to find one of us without the other – but then, as things go, life happened. I moved away, she shacked up and got knocked up. I moved back, shacked up myself, and she moved to some god awful inland town that seemed too far to drive to on a regular basis. I moved away again, blah blah fuckity blah. We always kept in touch though, as previous inseparable friends do, and since our lives once again mirror each other (married with kids) we've managed to see more of each other in the last two months than we have in the last 5 years. She still lives in some god awful inland town but the distance doesn't seem as bad as it once did.

It was with hesitation that I answered Andrea's text to me a little over a week ago. It simply said, “Are you free next Sunday?” If you are friends with anyone with children under the age of 10, always approach the Are You Free's with caution. “Are you free?” almost always translate to, “Can you babysit?” Andrea and I have set up a sort of babysitting exchange so I was pretty much counting on an evening with America's FunniestHome Videos and Andrea's bairn when I responded back with a positive yes, I was indeed free. I was quite surprised when she texted me back asking if I was interested in going to Los Angeles for the evening...to drink!....and she'd drive!

Yes please.

Because Andrea and I are both Married with Kids, the spontaneous trip to L.A. wasn't completely spontaneous. Her eldest was going to a concert up there and we'd have to pick him up when the show was done. It really didn't matter. It was L.A. and there was drinking to be done and since we are both Married with Kids, staying out until dawn wasn't in our repertoire anymore anyhow.

The evening started out with dinner because it's stupid to go out drinking on an empty stomach. I found a place online called the Escondite and I'm telling you about it half because I want to remember it myself and half because if you're ever in L.A. you should go here. It's not one of those places you will ever stumble upon; you have to know about it's existence. The neighborhood itself will make you question if such a place even exists but I assure you it does. It's great food at reasonable prices and they have the best bloody marys I've had in California (sans pickle) and I still like them even though their stupid saloon doors on the ladies bathroom ripped a hole in the sleeve of my sweater.

After dinner I convinced Andrea to drive to Tiki Ti, which is still my favorite bar in Los Angeles (even though I haven't actually been there in over three years). Sadly, they are closed on Sundays so we resigned ourselves to having cocktails at the Mexican restaurant lounge that was right next door. It was at this Mexican restaurant lounge that it suddenly occurred to me that we were sitting in a swarm of beards.

Beards. Like facial hair beards. And we aren't talking the “I forgot to shave for a week” beards, we are talking the, “I'm not shaving EVER” beards. I mean seriously. One moment I'm talking to Andrea about some leopard skin incident from the past and the next moment I'm grabbing her arm whispering\shouting, “What the FUCK is up with all the beards?” It was like some sort of Twilight Zone moment when look up and everyone around you is holding a chicken.

Because Andrea is Andrea and because I am me and because Andrea and I are some sort of something when we are together in this sort of capacity, we made a decision to try to take as many pictures of beards as we could without any of the beards realizing that is what we were doing. Andrea had some sort of flying fancy that we should approach the beards with this story of doing a sort of web article on facial hair in Los Angeles and “here's my business card” type of thing but I shot it down with a very simple, “I'm not drunk enough for that yet.” I'd like to point out that the camera we were using wasn't a simple iPhone camera or even a point-n-shoot, but instead it was a big ass SLR camera with a super zoom lens that may as well been 10 feet long for how obvious it was.

And thus is how Andrea and I spent our night. Drinking in various dive bars and taking pictures of beards...candidly (we at least thought they were candid through the haze of vodka). I'm sure we just looked like two middle aged women sitting at a bar giggling like middle aged women do when they spend 99% of their time with their children and they finally get a night out – but I had fun. No, I had a blast.

I can't possibly give you all the beards from the evening, but here are some highlights:

 This is what we consider 'candid'.  Aiming the lens at the other person while trying to capture the beard in the background.

My, what a little beard you have.

When "candid" goes out the window.

I believe this was a "via a mirror" shot.

I think this is the only guy who managed to pull off a full beard properly...

...this guy sure didn't.

Sometimes, you just have to try and fit in.

12 January 2013

I'm concerned about our pediatrician's lack of empathy

So I had to take Henry into the doctor's this past week to get him his 2nd flu shot.  The room that we were put into had a colorful mural painted on one of the walls:


It wasn't until I looked closer that I realized that while all the hippos are happy and frolicking in the sun, they are seemingly oblivious to the fact that one of them is drowning.   Or maybe they don't care.


It really puts to question what the artist was thinking, or what the doctor was trying to convey to his patients when he had this painted up.

"I'd really like this mural to say, 'If you don't exercise and eat right, you'll be the fattest hippo in all the world and will be unable to swim.   Of course, when you start drowning you will be so unpopular that no one will bother to help you.   Eat your vegetables.'"

18 December 2012

Sadly, I don't see a pickle with this.

So in a very quick follow up to this post that I wrote a million years ago, I have finally found a bloody mary that tops the one at Hi Hat in Milwaukee.  

It's this one...



It comes with a cheeseburger.   A CHEESEBURGER.   You can't get more awesome than that.  And yes, it's also from Milwaukee.  What can I say?  My people know how to deal with hangovers.

The Rambles

So this happened:



Which means that this could happen:


I will have to admit we were sweating bullets there for awhile wondering if we'd be able to pull off Christmas at all this year.  For awhile we were thinking we'd be sitting on two lawn chairs in our living room Christmas morning with a crayon drawing of a Christmas tree to put Henry's presents under.  While it may have only taken two months for our things to go from California to the UK two years ago, the shipment from the UK back to California took exactly 3 months and 1 week.  The company we used this last time failed to put our shipment on the first available boat causing a two week delay.  Then Hurricane Sandy delayed us 4 days.   Then the fucking port strike in Los Angeles delayed it another 2 weeks.   The bullshit part of it (as if it wasn't enough), US Customs tried to charge us for the extra days our things were in Customs when they couldn't get to it (due to the strike).  Andy caused a stink and it was reduced, but still...fuck you very much.

But that's neither here nor there as we again have our things and it's brilliant.  It was like an early Christmas opening boxes of things I haven't seen in months.   Do you like our white trash box collection out back?  I have no idea on how to depose of all those boxes as I've yet to find a recycling center like the ones in the UK.  Some centers charge to dispose of goods (like the city dump for example) and others are very specific on what they will take.   The one I was looking at only accepts cardboard that is clean and dry.   Well, we've had few storms come through recently (will I ever escape the rain?) and it's more mush than cardboard now.   This is a really boring paragraph to justify our white trashness. 

Between the unpacking and the Christmas preparing and the child rearing, I've just been trying to pull together a feasible schedule for my life right now.  when you don't work at an office where tasks and projects are assigned to you and there's a deadline and all that bullshit, it's easy (fairly) to stay on schedule.   It's obviously completely different working as a (fuck, I hate this term), homemaker (I don't make homes!  I can barely repair them!).  I have mornings where it's 10 AM and I'm still in my pajamas willing myself to make an effort to get the child and I ready for the outside world.  In my two years of "homemaking", I have only twice fallen victim to a whole day watching tv in pj's, letting the child eat a packet of crisps for lunch as I just couldn't be bothered to put together a well balanced meal.   I'm not proud and I don't do it often mostly because I get pretty fucking bored sitting around all day... and Henry doesn't seem to care for it either. 

It's strange in a way because although I have lived in California on and off for 10 years, this is the first time I've lived here unemployed and with a child.  There are many times I'll take Henry somewhere child friendly and I'll point to a building and say to Henry, "Mommy used to get absolutely blitzed there every Sunday.  They have really great blue drinks."  "Mommy used to drink here a lot too.  Man, I could go for their buffalo wings right about now."  So instead of doing all those fun things I would be doing if I was out of work and not child rearing, I sigh and steer my child to the nearest playground.  In a way it's like living here for the first time.   I know my way around, sure, but I'll be damned if I know any activities besides who has the best happy hours.  Which reminds me, the $4 meatloaf sandwich at Memphis is absolutely to die for.   Someone, please go there for me tonight if you could.  Tell me it was terrible, even if it wasn't.

Anyhow, Mommy\The ole Ball & Chain needs to prepare dinner.  This was just an update.  I'll try to find my funny again over the holidays.

30 November 2012

Exhaustion, this is my name

So I've been laying on this (still borrowed) futon for the last half an hour watching the kid push his Hot Wheels around going, “woooah woooah!” thinking to myself that I really should get up and go to the store to get some Drain-O. Apparently my hair, once out of my head, reacts to water like those little plastic capsules that once dumped into a cup of liquid turns into a life size foam dinosaur. I have to admit that once my hair is no longer attached to my head, it is suddenly very gross and I don't have the stomach lining to handle taking a fork to the drain. But whatever. I have since put the kid down for his nap and from the “woooah woooah!” and general clattering I hear through the floor above, I doubt that I will get much reprieve this afternoon from childcare.

If this all sounds incredibly lazy, it is. I have lost the will to live. That's so not true. I love to live and live I will but dammit, I have no motivation right now to tackle the chores I see just from the view from this (still borrowed) futon. There are Hot Wheels in every available crevice and floor space and I can hear that both the dryer and dishwasher are done and those Christmas cards won't address themselves and how the fuck did an oat from yesterday's oatmeal get over there? I must ignore it. I have to ignore it. I'm tired. No, I'm exhausted. I'm suffering from exhaustion, like Billy Joel must have done when people were still buying Billy Joel records.

We are finally moved. Like officially. There is no more staying at people's houses and flying across the country or borrowing cars or asking someone where their potato peeler is. We are here, in our house, and the next time we are leaving it is this spring for a proper vacation. We still don't have our things but they are in the country being inspected by US Customs. I rather enjoy the thought of a US Customs agent going through our clothes and having a proper dress up while lounging on our sofa flipping through our photo albums. “Hey Earl, can we arrest these people for having a friend that was clearly smoking a joint in, what year does this say...., um, April 1994? If not, we should probably arrest them for the Grateful Dead t-shirt this one has on when it's so obvious they have never been to a Dead show.”

Where was I? Oh yes. Exhausted. While I was meant to stay in California for 7 days, that turned quickly into 13 days, which turned into 20 days. I painted two bedrooms and went to rummage sales and stopped in to grab something at Home Depot so often I recognize most of the employees. When I finally flew back to Wisconsin, there was Thanksgiving and a family reunion two days after which I did the brunt of the cooking for. Then there was the flight back to California with a kid and a cat, followed by a manic two days shopping spree and errand running announcing, “We have nothing in the house! Must have something in the house! Cyber Monday! AHHHH! FUCK YOU CHRISTMAS FOR COMING ALREADY!!”

Seriously y'all. I have had insomnia for the majority of my life. This is the first period of time I can remember that I have been able to fall asleep within 5 minutes of going to bed LIKE THE REST OF THE DAMN WORLD and sleep all night solid. What's fucked up is that I still wake up tired. I'm so like Billy Joel 1988.

On a completely unrelated note, this guy at the mall hawking a sea salt scrub at one of those kiosks that pop up around this time of year said to me, “Have you heard of the Dead Sea?” He spoke with an Italian accent and was whispering so I'm, “um, what?” He repeats, “Have you heard of the Dead Sea?” And I'm looking at this guy trying to suss him out whether or not he honestly believes that I'm an idiot. Of course I've heard of the fucking Dead Sea. So I say, “Yes, of course I've heard of the Dead Sea.” Which is the point I realize that I am an idiot as I've just fallen into his sales trap cemented by the fact that he took that opportunity to take my hand and pour salt in my hand. As I'm trying to wash off this salt that he has poured into my hand, he asks if I'm concerned about my skin. I say no just to throw him off. He tells me it's obvious that I have Rosacea. I say, “you're good” and walk off. The moral of this story is this, if you see me with make-up more often, it's because some guy from the Dead Sea who has fought his way through visas and customs to sell sea salt scrub at some shit hole mall in Wisconsin has confirmed my fears that I look like a lobster.

Here's a picture of my dad and me....you know, just because I like to confirm paternity to the world.


09 November 2012

Nuts

So with all big moves, some things (like this blog) tend to be left behind as one desperately tries to sort one's shit out. Which is what I've been doing for the last (fuck, how long has it been since I last posted?) forever days...sorting massive amounts of shit out...and around...and throwing it up in the air like it just don't care (that doesn't make any sense)(the phrase was in my head so I felt I had to use it). It's been crazy and frustrating and I've found that stress from shit sorting should never be done when one is suffering from PMS.

I'm currently in California, sitting in our new sparsely decorated apartment on a borrowed futon. The things that we shipped via boat got delayed when it met up with some massive hurricane (you might have heard about it) and said boat has only just recently joined a massive queue to get through the Panama Canal. Basically our things, which we estimated to be with us now, will not be with us until December. It's not that big of a deal. It's an inconvenience to have basically nothing but it's manageable. Though it's only manageable because we have some really awesome friends.

While I've only been back in California for a week now, it's been a real eye opener on what we had been missing in the UK, which is of course friends. Having friends is a wonderful thing. I think after awhile you get used to any situation (lack of friends included) and you forget how fantastic having them around is (a bit like having a dishwasher again). While we don't have a car yet, we have been borrowed no less than 3 cars to use. My kitchen is stocked with the basics (cups, plates, silverware, etc) that I haven't bought. This futon I'm sitting on, the free coffee table that someone got us, the bunk beds that we've de-bunked so we don't have to sleep on the floor, the iPad loan before we got internet, the “go to our house any time to do wash, the door is open” before we had a washer\dryer, and lastly, the free babysitting when I do shit sorting – all given to us from our friends WITHOUT US EVER ASKING. I told my friend, Patrick, as I was thanking him for the million-th time (and which he was giving me shit for as friends are wont to do) how overwhelming it all was. In the best possible way of course. My heart swells from the generosity of it all and makes me so happy to be back.

But enough of that mushy girl shit.

You all, California is fucking nuts. I don't want to say that I had forgotten that about this place but I certainly dulled it down. I was away long enough where “California is fucking nuts” was a mere whisper in the breeze compared to all the sunshine and palm trees my mind kept floating to. But California is fucking nuts and everyone who has ever lived here knows it's fucking nuts but you've got to kind of embrace the nuttiness of it all or you'll hate it and decide to move back to Kansas or where ever it is the fuck you're from.

We live in a triplex and our landlord lives in the apartment next to us. It hasn't been an issue so far. He's Armenian but I swear to god he thinks he's Italian (or maybe I just don't enough Armenians to stereotype them). His decorating taste borders on the bouncy red castle of tacky and the entire building is decorated with murals. Our backyard has a lovely Tuscany type scene complete with a bottle of wine and a black cat. Inside we have the house of mirrors in every shape and size. Curious on how you look today? Walk into our place and I can show you yourself from every possible angle in every room. Will I paint over the mural or take down the mirrors? No. Well maybe those wavy mirrors in the kitchen. But otherwise no. It's fucking nuts and it's part of the place and while I have a habit of complaining, these are the type of things that are funny complainings and I'll kept them up for the simple conversation it's going to bring at all our BBQ's.

You thought I'd make shit like this up?

We bought our washer and dryer off of Craigslist. I tried to buy from a private owner but I kept getting , “It's already sold” (then take down your fucking ad asshat) and out of desperation, called one of the listings that seemed a bit dodgy (it wasn't a proper store but they had loads of washers and dryers for sale for cheap). What ended up happening is we drove out to Orange to meet up with two Mexicans in a pick up truck who took us to their storage unit. My spidey senses were tingling but I was running out of clean knickers so I carried on. I know! I could have been murdered but I really needed clean pants! Anyhow, I picked out a set with no idea if they worked or not, had no idea where they came from, paid for delivery and held my breath for a good result. And you know what? It was fucking nuts as it turned out fine. They delivered the set within the hour of seeing them, installed them for us and when the dryer was determined not to be heating properly, they fixed it for free. Result! Clean underpants!

There's been the lady I saw at Ralph's who easily had over 50 thousand dollars worth of plastic surgery done who was counting out pennies to pay for her generic paper towels and tin of generic soup. There's been the resighting of the guy who bikes around with his dog in a trailer while the dog barks nonstop at traffic (or perhaps to tell the guy that he would very much prefer not to be riding around in the back of a bike not strapped in). The Orange County moms who call their children Colton and Maximilian....and all who have perfectly coiffed Bieber hair at age 3.

This place is Fucking Nuts....and I love it.

25 October 2012

You know this had to happen eventually.

So as you might expect, since I'm staying at my parents house eventually I had to make my way into the old photos.   I could show you some really cute ones of me when I was younger (they did happen every now and again) but what would be the fun in that?

Yes, I am providing you some humor instead of a real post as I've done nothing but child care and endless texts and emails to Andy regarding our new life in California (Oh hey!  We found an apartment!)(Yay!).   I might get bored tomorrow night and go into some of that but I can't promise anything so here's some pictures of me with really bad hair.


If any of you young ones wonder what life was like in the 1970's, you are pretty much looking at it.  Flared pants and sticking as many of your children in the back of a wood paneled station wagon without seat belts.  I wouldn't doubt if my parents actually drove off with all the doors open like this.  The 1970's was one of the last eras where childhood was described as "survival of the fittest".

Can't guess which one is me?  I'm the one with the boy's haircut and who is missing most of their front teeth (ie: the one on the way left).


This must be the look of every only child when they are handed their first sibling.  It's the look of, "I don't care who he is, I'm not sharing the prize in the cereal box."

And yes, I still look like a boy.  But I have EARRINGS in, so no one can be confused.


This is the photo that I found that inspired this post.  Here I am in nature, which you must know I wasn't enjoying being in, but I appear happy because I'm not wearing pants and I'm promoting cigarettes.  

Story of my life really.

13 October 2012

While I'm waiting...

So after two weeks of living the husband-less, child-less carefree existence, I am now with Henry again. Andy has spent his week here in Wisconsin and is currently on a plane. I'm sure in 6 hours time I will receive a gloating text from him telling me how lovely the weather is where he's at and boy, doesn't he just feel like having a pint...or six. I don't blame him, since I did the same to him.

As expected, it didn't really take me long to readjust to life back in the States. It's been three weeks and part of me feels like I never left at all. The UK? Where's that? It's been good but I'm starting to get anxious to be done with this move already. Taking three months to move is brutal and we're only halfway done with the process. We were reassured that our stuff is indeed on a boat (I want to be on a boat) and depending on the line (BrE: queue) at the Panama Canal and US Customs, we should have our things again by mid to late November. I often look at my things and become jealous that they have seen more countries than me.

While I wait patiently (*scoff*) for our lives to once again be settled, I try to keep myself entertained as best I can. I'd like to add that my entertainment thus far as added around 5-10 lbs to my waistline. Thank you America.

Here are some photos from the last few weeks because, you know, that's all I got for now.


 I typically don't drink too many fruity beers but when I do, nothing beats a Leinenkugel's.   I've been a fan of their Berry Weiss beer for years now and I was excited to try this Lemon Berry Shandy.  It didn't disappoint.  I won't embarrass myself and tell you how fast I got through a six pack of it.   My only defense was that I was still child-less at the time.   I'm reckoning at least a pound was added to my waistline because of this beer.


While wandering around downtown, I happened to stop at this huge antique shop.    Since I had time to kill (like a week and a half worth of time), I spent almost an hour here looking around at all the old shit.   Just as I was about to leave, I spotted this - a Fisher Price Activity Center.   It was....OK, listen, this was the same damn Fisher Price Activity Center I had when I was a baby.   I stood in that antique shop and I pressed and pulled and twanged every "activity" on this thing and every time I knew the exact sound it was going to make before it made it.   It was very Twilight Zone.   Also, it made me feel pretty fucking old. 


If you want to know the kind of shit I do when I'm bored, this is a perfect example.  A couple Fridays ago I read in the paper that starting at noon, Milwaukee would be holding a two day Oktoberfest and per tradition there would be free beer from the first keg tapped until that keg ran out.   So I went....by myself...and drank free beer and shook the mayor of Milwaukee's hand...and talked to some older couple for over an hour until my parking meter ran out (that's a real parking meter and not code for something else).   This is a picture of the keg being tapped by the mayor of Milwaukee whose name I still don't know but who I didn't mind saying, "nice to meet you" as he handed me a free beer.


I didn't stop in here, but the name of the place made me laugh.   Oh Milwaukee...you're so funny.


A trip to the Midwest in fall (BrE: autumn) would not be complete without a trip to the Saturday Farmer's Market.   This was the first day of the weather being complete shit cold after a week of sunny 70's.  This didn't stop the farmers from serving ice cold apple cider.    Also, when you are out and about in very Republican suburban Wisconsin, it's probably not best to accept and proudly display the "Wisconsin for Obama!" sticker you were handed.   I didn't know farmers were capable of such dirty looks to people handing them money for their goods.


After the complexity of fruit machines in the UK (I swear you need some sort of degree to figure out them out - preferably of the rocket science variety) I was looking forward to the simplicity of American slot machines\fruit machines.  I really shouldn't have.  Only having 6 buttons and a single screen didn't exactly stop me from seeing my money disappear, it just took a little longer.


Now here's a game I have a chance with...bar dice.   While I managed to do really well, at the end of the day I don't think I really needed those free shots of whiskey. 


This was taken this past week when my two favorite AmeriBrits got into town.   I immediately took Henry to get his haircut but Andy insisted that he'd get his done once he got to California.   He also said he'd wash his jeans at least once a week which we all know is terribly unlikely.


We took Henry to a farm\petting zoo.  $20 bucks for us to all get in and all Henry wanted to do was play on the tractor in the parking lot.   Kids, right?  Can't live with 'em, can't leave them on the tractor while you go ahead into the zoo.

Well, that's about it for now.  Since I'm single parenting for the next month and a half, I can't promise I'll have much in the way of adult themed updates (that sounds dirty) but I will try my best.   Keep warm and to the California folks, Andy promised me he wouldn't go on a boat until I got out there so don't bother asking. 

Don't even think about it.

01 October 2012

On being back...

So here I am. In America. Eating American foods and donning my sports related sweatshirts outside of the house. I'm taking showers behind full screen doors and washing my hands under mixer taps. I'm driving on the right to Target to buy things that are reasonably priced. I'm here, in America, and it's...weird.

I fully understand that I wasn't in the UK for a long time. A year and a half, that's it. That's nothing really and because of that you would think that being back in the States wouldn't be...weird. But it is. It's this strange combination of trying to reprogram your brain to stop working so hard in some ways, and having to kick it back in motion in other ways.

It's been a week back in the States and I still find myself watching the weather report and having to tell my brain I don't need to convert the numbers on the screen into Fahrenheit. When I'm cooking, I don't need my laptop up to a page that does grams to cups conversions. When shopping, I don't have to wonder if the store I'm in will carry an item or if I'm going to have to go to that same store's bigger store downtown to get it. I mean, I know I don't have to think that way but my brain has been working so hard for the last year and half that it can't seem to stop.

There's also this constant realization that things are more convenient here. I spent the first three days I was back not leaving the house until 10 AM because my brain was programmed to think that no stores was open until then. I spent an hour planning which T-mobile store I was going to drive to that would be able to activate my jail broken iPhone only to realize that the Walmart up the street (open 24 hours) had everything I needed.

Being in America is kind of like dealing with your friend's cousin Vinnie, “Whadda want? Whadeva you want, we got it.”

But there are some things that I have to start thinking about again...like sandwich ordering. In the UK if I ordered a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, they may ask me what bread I wanted and blam, there was my bacon, egg and cheese sandwich. But at the sandwich shop here:

“I'll have the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich please.”

“What type of bread?”

“Um, wheat I guess.”

“White or yellow egg?”

“Huh?”

“White or yellow egg?”

“What does that even mean? White or yell....um, uhhhhh, one with a yolk? Yellow maybe?”

“Cheese?”

“Yes please.”

“No, what KIND of cheese?”
“What? Uh, provolone?”

“Toasted?”

“Oh Christ. No, just how it is please.”

“What do you want on it?”

“....”

“Toppings, what toppings do you want on it?”

“Just bacon, egg and cheese....oh wait, yeah, add some tomato since you're there.”

I swear that the sandwich shop now has a large picture of my face with a “Do Not Serve” written under it now.

I'm also struggling a bit with the expat hoarder mentality. I was doing a grocery shop the other day and I had to stop myself not once, but THREE times not to “pick something up to take back to the UK with me”. I don't need 5 boxes of Kraft Mac & Cheese. I don't need the jumbo box of Q-tips. I don't need to overdose on kosher dill pickles. I live here now. All that is available pretty much any time I want it.

And just so you know, I'm doing pretty good with driving on the right – it's just parking lots where I sometimes find myself hugging the left hand side of the lane for no apparent reason.

Oh, and I can't stop myself from saying, “cheers” as a thank you, but I'm trying. It's now coming out as, “Cheers, er, thank you.” Thankfully I never picked up 'ta' though a 'mate' has slipped out once or twice.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some fresh (not instant) coffee with half and half to drink while I lazily watch 'Good Morning America'. Indeed.

30 September 2012

Thanks for the prezzie, England.

Because I know you all worry, I just wanted to let you know that I did not die in a fiery plane crash.  I have made it to America alive...although not well.   I decided to pick up an English cold as a parting gift and have been dealing with that (and shopping at Target) since my return.

Once I am properly on the mend, I will give you a nice lengthy post about my reverse culture shock - something I honestly didn't think I'd have but got anyway.


17 September 2012

Ta-ra, as they say.

So like I may have mentioned, it's been a bit hectic around these parts. We had the shippers come in two Fridays ago. Because they were earlier than expected we managed to clean the entire house that same day – though because they were earlier than expected, I didn't get half the bedding washed as I had hoped and thus some it was tossed and the rest we have to carry with us for two months. Fun times. We have also temporarily moved into my mother-in-law's house which you may remembered from my first post about it contains it's own set of challenges. I will state it again for those who don't want to re-read – my mother-in-law is brilliant. Staying at a place that is not your own for an extended amount of time, whomever house it may be, sucks monkey balls. But that is what must be done and being done it is. I do leave for the States (sans husband and son) next Tuesday so I think I can manage not ripping out those un-mixer taps in a feat of rage for a week. Maybe.

Since I only have a week left here, I thought it might be time to compile a list for you some of the things that I will really miss from England. I can't possibly list them all, especially since I probably don't even realize all the things I will miss. I'm sure three months from now I'll be walking along thinking, “Damn, I could really go for some Smarties right now...and a bag of Hula Hoops.” Or who knows, it might be, “Damn, I really wish my produce was excessively packaged for hygiene.” It's hard to say.

VAT INCLUDED

OK, let's state for the record that the cost of VAT (value added tax)(ie: sales tax) is typically higher than any in the States. The standard VAT rate is currently 20%. Compare that to the current sales tax rate of California which is 9.75%. That's fucking a lot. I'm not going to miss the VAT rate. I am going to miss 'VAT included'. What VAT included means is that when you see a price tag in the store, that is the price you are going to pay. In the UK, I can buy a bottle of bubbles for £1.30 (What? I have a kid!) and a can of tuna for £1.65 (What? I have a cat!) and when I go up to pay, I know I will have to give the cashier £2.95. If I'm in the States and the bubbles were $1.30 and the tuna $1.65, I'd probably give the cashier the evil eye if she rings up some sort of amount where I have to go searching for 3 pennies. And the amount is always something that requires 3 pennies and I never seem to have more than 2 pennies and I'm pissed off that I don't have any thing smaller than a quarter which is going to result in more change and DAMMIT, JUST INCLUDE THE FUCKING SALES TAX ALREADY.

So yeah, I'm going to miss that.


TIPPING

Since we're on the subject of money, let's talk about tipping. We all know that the British are completely shit tippers. This is why waitresses in the States don't like waiting on customers that are clearly from across the pond. While the Brits know that when they are in the States they are suppose to tip, some feign ignorance and others leave 5-10% honestly believing that it's a decent tip. To the latter half, we have to excuse them. A 5-10% tip in this country is honestly a decent tip. When I went to the hairdressers, I tipped the stylist £5 for a £50 haircut. That's 10%. The stylist held my fiver back to me and said, “You gave me too much.” I said, “It's a tip.” She said, “That's too much...are you sure?” I said, “You deserve it.” She took the cash but she had that look on her face that showed she thought I was crazy giving her so much money.

I guess you may be wondering what I'm going to miss...well, it's not having to tip, or if I do tip, not feeling required to leave 20%. That really sounds terrible, doesn't it? It shouldn't. I was a waitress for many years. I was a bartender after that. In the States I know that people in the service industry count on their tips for their livelihood. In the States I tip, and I tip well. I just don't like the feeling of guilt I have if I don't tip well because the service was bad (and I when I say I don't tip well, it means I leave 13%, and the service has to be complete and utter shit for me to ever do that). Here, I don't have to concern myself with that. The bartender I'm talking to or the waitress that is serving my food is being paid properly by their employers. They don't count on my tip to pay their rent. If they are rude (which if they aren't counting on tips happens a lot) you don't tip and you don't feel crap about it. If they are friendly and pleasant, you give them 10% - and they always thank you for it.


WALKING

Now I miss driving. I miss driving a lot. I'm really looking forward to getting behind the wheel again and cruising down the freeway at 90 mph blasting some tunes scaring old ladies gripping the their steering wheel as I pass. That said, I'm also going to miss walking. I'm going to miss my toned calves. I'm going to miss spending a day at a fair and not having my legs ache for two days afterward. I can swear to you, myself and all the personal trainers in the world that I will continue to walk once I get back to the States. But I won't. There isn't a convenient bus to get me to Target. There isn't a quick train to hop on to get me to the beach. And you can't ignore the fact that I'd look completely daft taking a little pull shopping trolley to the grocery store every day. The car will be used and it will be used a lot. I guess it would be fair to say that I'm really going to miss a proper functioning public transport system too.


PARKS

The United States of America doesn't have any parks! None! Not a blade of grass in sight! All concrete and 7-11's!

Yes, I lie. The States have parks, and lots of them. From my experience, there are two park types in the States– the small jungle gym type of ones that are in a neighborhood with at least one homeless person sleeping under a tree and the big massive parks with no jungle gyms but plenty of coyotes, bears, and dead bodies that have been dumped by the latest mass murderer. I'm not a big fan of the parks in America. I've always avoided the small ones because I didn't have a kid (so that will change...just have to step over the homeless guy to get to the slide) and I definitely avoided the bigger ones as I never wanted to discover a body. That is fact. I have an irrational fear of discovering a dead body....or a dead squirrel...or a dead anything really, that isn't a bug because bugs are disgusting.

The parks here are different. They tend to be bigger and lusher and always have a jungle gym and a duck pond and seem to be manicured enough that if there was a dead body in there, the maintenance team would have discovered it hours before I'd have a chance to.


PINTS OF BEER IN LABELED PINT GLASS

So have you ever been out with your friends and it's your turn to buy the round and two of your friends order a Miller Lite and one friend orders a Coors Light (by the way, why are your friends drinking such crap?) and when you get the drinks the bartender has put a straw in the Coors Light so that you know that the one with the straw is the piss from Colorado and not the piss from Wisconsin? You don't get that here.

Not to say that they don't have shit beer here, they do, but it's clearly labeled so that everyone can see that you are drinking shit beer. I guess I shouldn't say 'labeled'. There isn't a sticker or anything. It's just when you order a Guinness, it comes in a Guinness glass. If you order a Carling, it comes in a Carling glass. If you order a Strongbow, it comes in a Strongbow glass. So on and so forth. No confusion, no fucking little straws bobbing at the top of a pint. Pure brilliance I tell you. Though, it does take away that mystery of two people tasting each others pints trying to figure out if they've got the right one...that's always a laugh.


THE NHS

Yes, I said it again. I will miss the shit NHS. This is only because I had a glance at what our insurance premiums are going to be for our family of three and it made me shake in the corner whispering, “stay healthy stay healthy stay healthy”. Seriously America, get your shit together...I don't like missing the NHS. That's just wrong.


THE CHIPPY

There isn't a lot of food I'm going to miss in the UK. I will miss the chocolate and beer but that's obvious and I can get both reasonably easy in the States. The food from the chippy though, well...how can I explain how something is so not good, nor good for you, but yet has a special place in my heart that I know I will crave? I honestly don't know anything more British then a bucket full of barely cooked chips hot from the fryer wrapped in 6 layers of newspaper smelling of vinegar and salt swinging in a plastic bag on your arm stumbling home from a night at the pub. It's that really. That is what it is like living here. If you understand those chips, then you understand England.


EXPAT BEGONE

This is my last post from the UK. I'll miss writing about here. I'll miss just being an expat. Thanks for reading though, and I'll see you on the other side of the pond (if I don't die in a fiery plane crash).

09 September 2012

Oh America...

...you so crazy.*


*This piece of shit post was brought to you by "I'm so fucking tired right now, I could sleep for 18 days",  "Moving houses is a ball ache" and "Have you seen my camera cord\ear phones\kid's baby blanket\extra pajama bottoms?  No?  Shit, they must have been shipped."

03 September 2012

Filler

So I didn't mean to drop the whole Moving Bomb and then run away from the blog. As you may have guessed, my forced level of secrecy up to this point pretty much means that when I say that I'm moving, we are like, moving now. The big shipping van comes on Friday. Yeah. That's not to say that we won't be in England a bit longer. We will. But the madness of packing and sorting and trying to keep a 17 month old not only occupied but happy with all the changes going on around him...well, it's been stressful. Seriously, I've completely broken out in zits (BrE: spots) this last week, been having problems sleeping, having mini panic attacks (have I mentioned how much I hate flying?) and have been flip-flopping into pure adrenaline MUST PACK MUST PACK stages back into sitting on the couch with my hand in a bag of crisps watching 'Snog, Marry, Avoid' (as a general rule, one should follow the 'avoid' in regards to viewing this program) trying to forget there are 8 things (at least) in my field of vision that I should probably take care of. Blogging, I'm afraid, is going to be taking a back seat in my To-do list for at least a month. Though that's not to say I won't be here at all....just probably not as regular.

Am I ever really regular on this blog though? Yeah, that's what I thought.

ANYHOW, I do plan on doing a post sometime before I leave about all the things that I am really going to miss about the UK. Yes, there really are quite a few things. I thought about doing a post about all the things I didn't like about the UK but that's just basically a re-hash of 'all the things I miss about America'.

The one thing I will mention that I don't think I'll miss about the UK is having an accent. When I came to the UK on holiday 3 years ago I was a bit scared to open my mouth and speak. For whatever god forsaken reason, I didn't want anyone to hear my accent and start thinking, “stupid American”. Or, when I had a few pints in me and I didn't care if they were thinking “stupid American” as long as they confirmed that is precisely where I was from, I was disappointed when most of the time people didn't say, “Oh, you must be (a stupid) American!”. For the three weeks we were here that time, only 4 people mentioned anything about my accent – or what they refer to as 'a (stupid) American twang'.

Now that I've lived here for awhile, I have no qualms about talking or speaking. Truthfully, now that I've been here awhile, I actually find it – um, I don't want to say 'annoying' because it's not exactly that – distracting when I'm talking to a person and they interrupt me to ask if I'm American. I could be going into Tesco and up at the service desk to ask where they keep the plain white vinegar for cleaning and the lady responding will be, “oh, it's in the same aisle as the – hey, are you American?”

It's also a bit annoying (and truly annoying this time) to explain to people that yes, I'm American but I do actually live here now. It wasn't always the case. When I first moved here I got a lot of joy of saying exactly that. Now that the glamor of living the UK has subsided, so has my thrill of informing people that “Yes, I am an American who tore off the chains of mediocrity and decided to broaden my mind abroad!”

Oh, and on the same lines, I'm not going to miss going into B and Q and asking the lady where the Spackle is.

“Excuse me, where can I find the Spackle?”

“Spac....?”

“Spackle. You know, Spackle. For the holes in the wall. Spackle.”

blank stare

“Spackle. SPAA-CUL”

Andy, from behind, interrupting me, “Where's the 'poly filla'?”

“Aisle 24, sir.”

 Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to

25 August 2012

Quitters

So Andy has finally given me the go ahead to announce our big news to you. Actually, he didn't so much as give me the go ahead as much as it was me saying, “this is fucking stupid, I'm breaking the news in my blog in two weeks.” I've asked him many times for the reasoning behind his need for secrecy but I didn't catch much of it save rapid ramblings regarding a ticket tape parade. You guys, men are weird.

To all those who might have guessed that I'm pregnant again, you are absolutely right.

Oh. Ha. Ha ha. HA HA HA HA HA!

No, quite happily, I am completely free of human organisms growing inside of me save those that are all mine and to celebrate that fact, I'm having myself a nice big vodka drink as we speak. Chin chin.

The big news that I have to share is that we are moving back to America. The States. The land of the free and the home of big fucking restaurant portions. God bless In-n-Out burgers....and kosher dill pickles! I realize that this news means that a lot of you will stop reading this blog. An expat blog whose author is no longer an expat is, well, just another American talking crap about American things. I can't promise you this space will be interesting to you anymore but I'll keep on writing because that's just what I do. Hope you stick around long enough that I send you yearly Christmas cards....and believe me, I do do that shit. Ha, I said 'do-do'.

I'm sure many of you who have been considering making that big move across to England might question why we have decided, after only a year and a half, to move back. I can only give our reasons for the decision and hope that in the end you make up yours knowing as much as you can about the place and saying, “fuck it, I'm doing it anyway.” Research is a wonderful thing but sometimes you just have to go out and experience the shit for yourself. You might find that you discover something that works for you that didn't us. I will say this to the end of days – it may not have worked out for me and my family but I don't for a minute regret coming to the UK. I have learned a lot in a year and a half. I'm a different person than I was. I'm grateful for that. My cousin, Shannen, who has lived in Japan and South America and seen most of this world has always said to me, “If you want to go, then go. If it doesn't work out, you can always come home.” Basically I'm telling you, if you are considering moving to the UK, then fucking do it already. If it doesn't work out, you can always come home.

But enough about you already. Here are the three main reasons why we made the choice to pack up all our shit (and the damn fucking expensive ass cat!) and move overseas all over again.

THE WEATHER

This is the least important reason. I grew up in Wisconsin for fuck's sake. Wisconsin is like, the Arctic – except when it's not and it's like a Korean sweat shop (for the record, May and June are usually quite lovely). I'm used to bad weather. I survived the winter here in the UK without much complaint. It's been the summer that has absolutely killed me. There's an advert playing the radio here that promotes 'The Great British Summer!'. I often turn to Andy and say, “they mean that sarcastically, don't they?” While not all British summers have been the deluge that this one has, this summer was quite enough to say, “You know, I would really prefer not to be DAMP anymore.” They talk about the rain in England and Ireland but until you spend 5 months on end just being damp ALL THE FUCKING TIME do you appreciate what that kind of rain really means.

 The "Great British Summer"...at least there's booze.


THE MONEY

….Or the complete lack of it. I haven't been this poor since I was in my early twenties. I'm almost 40 for fuck's sake, I don't want to be poor anymore. I don't like discussing money, especially on a public forum such as this one. I could discuss to you exactly why we don't have any money, but it's boring. I'm also sure everyone could tell me ways that I could have more money (“stop smoking and drinking dumb ass!”)(“get a job and somehow find affordable day care!”) (oh..ha. Ha ha!) but at the end of the day, the way Andy and I want to live our lives is the way we want to live our lives. The long and the short of it is that Andy and I can't afford our lifestyle in the UK. We don't want to take all our vacations in a forest camping. We don't want to stay home watching television every weekend. This is actually the one point that makes me so angry when I stop to think about it. Continental Europe is RIGHT THERE. It's right there people! I could spit and hit France! Can we afford to go to France? Not right now we can't. Maybe if we saved for half a year....for a weekend away. To put this in geographical prospective – it's like being in Wisconsin and saving up for half a year to have a weekend away in Michigan. I've said to myself sometimes, “...if I was only a really good swimmer I could totally save on airfare.”

Andy knows that if we had this much cash, I'd throw it on the bed and roll around in it.


THE FRIENDS

I can't begin to tell you how much both Andy and I miss having friends. While Andy never gets out much at all (see paragraph above), I do manage to get to the Children's Center and around town a lot during the week. A year and a half ago I would have thought that with all my outings, surely I would have a gaggle of persons to be able to call on a Saturday afternoon to invite out for a coffee (or a drink) by now. Nope. Not a single fucking person. The only person I managed to start a friendship with had the balls to up and move away. This is actually the one point that I think someone else who is considering coming to England will have a lot better luck than me. Maybe you're younger. Maybe you don't have any kids. Maybe you are just more sociable. I don't know – I think maybe all the forces in nature worked against Andy and I in this aspect. All I know is that when I saw this posted on Facebook, there wasn't a giant sized Dairy Milk bar in the world that could keep us here anymore.

Keep that seat warm and the beer cold, guys.

So yeah. We gave it a go and it didn't work out. No regrets.

California, we're coming home.

23 August 2012

But I did!

I can't help but hear my mother's voice when I read this sign.


21 August 2012

All the Questions before the Big One...

So I just want to start out and thank you everyone who commented on my last post (*cough* the two of you). Thankfully there were so many questions from those two people that I have enough to write an entire post answering those questions. As an added bonus, they didn't make me go anywhere to satisfy their far-away curiosity. I've been sick with a head cold this week and found it hard to find the energy to shower much less leave the house.

Alrighty then, let's jump right in, shall we?

QUESTION #1: Well, I know I have more questions, but one thing I wonder is what it's like to be an American in Liverpool. Do people treat you differently? Assume you're related to Tim Howard (Everton)? Do you have a cool factor?

I'd like to state from the get-go that I do not have, and will never have, a cool factor. Looking back, I think the only time in my life I had anything regarding “cool” was when I was a bartender in my very early twenties. And really, I was only 'cool' because I controlled how drunk you got and you paid me money for it.

I don't think there is much of a difference being an American in Liverpool (or the UK) as it is for any other foreigner in this country. People occasionally will ask where I'm from and when I tell them, they will say, “Oh! I thought from your accent you were Canadian.” I blame my Wisconsin accent for the Canadian thing by the way. That is usually how far it will go unless the person asking has been to the States or has relatives in the States and then they will tell me which state they have been\or their relative lives in. It is never a state that I particularly like. If the person is really chatty (rarely), they will ask how I like it here and I'm obliged to say how great Liverpool is but “how about this weather, huh?” Then we will all agree that rain is the substance that will kill us all. The End.

The most interesting story I have in the entire time that I've been here is the time a women on the bus (after overhearing my accent talking to Henry) purposely stopped me on the street after I got off the bus to ask me, “What is a Homecoming Queen?” Like all her life she had been waiting to meet an American to ask that question.

(Sorry I'm ignoring the Tim Howard question – I seriously have no idea who he is.)


QUESTION #2: One question I've asked you before in a previous post was in regard to femininity/attire there. Specifically, the high "skank factor" being the norm, vs an exception (as in the States...sorry any Brits). Maybe, if you're up for it, you could share some insights you've had on gender, and social norms? You know, in your spare time.

This is going to be a really hard question to answer simply because I don't go to clubs or really, go out anytime past 6 o'clock anymore. I can only tell you what I see in the daylight hours and really, I don't think it's THAT much different than in the States. I may have mentioned before that I have never felt comfortable leaving the house in a sweatshirt in the UK like I would back home. At the same time, I don't feel like I have to dress up. But my step mother when she visited had made a comment that she felt everyone was more 'made up' then she was used to, so it's all a matter of opinion.

The best way to break it up is this – people here are going to dress however the hell they feel like, just like back in America. The biggest difference, I feel, is that most people reserve their sweatshirts and fleece coats for rambling in the country. The good people of the UK love a good ramble in the country after all. In every day life, you throw on some jeans\skirt\slacks, a shirt\blouse, and some sensible shoes and call it a day.

I hope that answered your question, though I seriously doubt it did!

QUESTION #3: Do you have gas stations that sell cigarettes, beer, and lotto tickets?

Yep, just like in the States! I don't know if the gas stations (ie: petrol stations) had to adhere to the new rules, but in Tesco, they are no longer able to 'display' cigarettes. All the cigarettes have to be behind a plain white panel\door type thing so if you are asking for cigarettes, you sure as hell better know what brand you intend to buy. This is apparently because cigarette packaging is so fun and colorful that children will surely be sucked into the alluring red triangles of a pack of Marlboro’s.


QUESTION #4: Are all the gas stations open 24 / 7?

I had to ask Andy this as he is in charge of getting the petrol. He said, “I would say most of the major chains are open 24 hours. Independents and rural ones tend not to be.” So there you go.


QUESTION #5: Do you have Fast Food places Mickey D Taco Hell Bugger King Fun places like that or just Pub Food?

McDonald’s, KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut and Burger King, yes. Taco Bell, Wendy's, Jack in the Box, no. They did have a Taco Bell in Spain though. I say with a heavy heart (read: embarrassment) that I miss Taco Bell.


QUESTION #6: What about delivery Pizza Jimmy John or Chinese?

Gail, I'm assuming you mean Papa John's pizza and not Jimmy John's sub sandwiches? They do indeed have Papa John's pizza and we order from them at least once a month (oh god, I'm really showing why I have a weight problem, aren't I?).

They also have loads of Chinese delivery too, though the menus are completely different and I never seem to find exactly what I'm looking for. If we're going to be honest, we all know that Chinese food in America is really just American food served over some rice that we call Chinese. In the States, if I order Chinese food, I'll usually get the Beef with broccoli and snow peas. Here, you order your meat (beef, chicken, pork, 'special' (I still have no idea what type of meat 'special' is), or prawn) and then you choose your sauce (teriyaki, OK sauce, sweet & sour, garlic & spring onion, etc). I've never seen it where they list the vegetables you're going to get with it and half the time I have no idea what all the sauces are. I don't know if the Chinese food is conformed to British tastes like it is in America. I'd guess the answer is yes (having never been to China) but I can't say for sure.


QUESTION #7: What is the food that made Liverpool famous like Milwaukee has Beer and Brats and
Chicago has the Hotdog and Deep Dish Pizza?


Good question! The food that Liverpool is known for is scouse. That is why people from Liverpool are called 'Scousers'. Scouse is a type of lamb or beef stew, very VERY similar to a typical Irish stew with potatoes and carrots. It makes sense, as Liverpool has a lot of Irish heritage being one of the first port of call when the Irish were fleeing due to the potato famine. Look at me! I'm being all historical!

I've actually made Scouse.   I've even made vegetarian Scouse for Andy - it's called 'Blind Scouse'.

If I had another food Liverpool is known for – and this is only going by the number of restaurants I see of this type – then it's fast food chicken. I'm guessing this is due to the famine of students with great late night hunger from the Red Bull cocktail.

QUESTION #8: Did you ever find a proper Dill Pickle?

No, and stop rubbing it in.