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.

14 August 2012

No seriously, the parks are really quite lovely

So my sister was in town last week which is why there has been a bit of an absence here on this blog. Funny enough, my sister and I really didn't do anything particularly blog worthy. She just had back surgery two months ago and she was on plenty of drugs that prevented her from drinking. Not that my sister is much of a drinker anyhow – she's the athletic type that is very comfortable drinking water while the rest of us are getting stupid. Not that she doesn't partake now and again but...whatever. She was here, it was awesome, we remained sober, it was still awesome.

OK, we may have had a pint and a half.  That's not really drinking, is it?

What she and I (and Henry) did mostly was go to parks. Maggie apparently brought the California sunshine with her and it was lovely and 70's for all of last week (I'm completely ignoring the Tuesday morning when we went out and got completely soaked from a sudden cloud opening making me all sorts of Grumpy Gus until that fucking sun showed itself again). Did you know, there are a lot of parks around here, and they are all quite lovely. We also took a long walk on the prom(enade) that follows the River Mersey which was also really great.

In a park!  Surprise!

I know, I know. I have no stories. What can I say? It's my sister. We talked shit for 6 days. That's what sisters do.

I also don't have much of a post for you because I've been really busy with this big thing that is coming down the pipeline. Fuck me. I haven't worked in an office for over a year and I'm still saying shit like 'coming down the pipeline'. Somebody get me a TPS report, stat. I'll have a good post about this 'big thing coming down the pipeline' in a couple of weeks, until then, I'll pose a couple questions to you all. Yes, these questions are a total cop-out for coming up with my own ideas for the next blog post. Feel free to answer via comments if you want:

  • Besides the Beatles, what, if anything do you think defines Liverpool? No stealing hubcap jokes – that's a dead horse.

  • If I haven't covered it already, where in Liverpool would you'd like me to write about and\or explore? Mind, I could be wrong, but I don't think they have crack dens. Or maybe they do. I'll ask Henry, he likes making dens.

  • Oh, and just a general 'I wish I knew' question – who is the lady who breaks in shoes for the Queen? Does she do other things besides just breaking in shoes? I stay up at night wondering about this lady. I bet her feet just ache, like, ALL THE TIME.

 Yes, someone else actually broke these in for the Queen.  Apparently by traipsing through a mud puddle. Who is that woman?!

01 August 2012

Letting Go of 1988

So, the Olympics appear to be on. I really didn't want to do a post about the Olympics but since I can't seem to avoid them – mostly since Andy is “I'll watch anything labeled as a 'competition'” - it's been a bit hard to. I mean, the Olympics have been playing on our television pretty much nonstop since Saturday.

I will be completely honest and say that I have never been a fan of the Olympics. Not that I have anything against them, I just don't care for them. Part of it, of course, has to do with my complete disinterest in sports as a whole. Mainly though, my dislike of the Olympics stems from childhood. Back before DVR's, we had to watch all our television programs live. I know, right? If there was a show you wanted to watch, you had to be in front of the TV at the exact moment it came on or else you'd miss it. You'd also have to hold your bladder through the commercials or else run to the bathroom really really quickly (I'd say 'skip the hand washing' but in my house, with my mother, there was no such thing as skipping a potential wash of something). What does that have to do with the Olympics? I suppose not much since all the shows that I really really liked as a kid were never on during the agonizing two weeks of the Olympics. Not much of anything was on during the two weeks of the Olympics which means that for two weeks, instead of crushing after Kirk Cameron in 'Growing Pains' (What the hell Kirk? Is there a way to go back in time and take down my poster of you and set it on fire?) or getting a life lesson on 'Family Ties' or 'the Cosby Show', all I had to do was homework and organizing my cassette tape collection (seeing as I had about 20 tapes, this didn't take long). Worse yet, back then both the Winter and Summer Olympics were on in the SAME YEAR. Basically, a whole month of 1988 was completely ruined as far as my brain was concerned.

I don't think I've ever forgiven the Olympics for 1988.

I'm looking at you Calgary.

Now that I'm living in Britain and the Olympics are right here, it's hard not to get interested on some level. Mind, the Olympics have been in the States before, but never in the state I was residing in so for all intents and purposes they could have been held on the moon. It's kind of cool seeing signs on the motorway here that read 'Next Right for Park and Ride Olympics'. It's also kind of cool not having to wade through the Team USA! shit during this period. Oh sure, there's Team GB where ever you go here but since I'm not British I don't feel like I'm affiliated with it in any way (not to mention there is a distinct lack of an implied exclamation mark like there is with Team USA!). It's been alright, this Olympics stuff, and as I said, interesting on some level even (saving that Andy doesn't make me watch canoeing again – or white water rafting – or white water canoeing – whatever the fuck it's called). Henry even likes the equestrian events because he is All About Horses right now.

So yeah.

All my thoughts and feelings aside, yesterday the Vegemite Wife texted me to see if I wanted a front row ticket to the Women's Football event playing that day. Honestly, swear to god, I wanted to go. Not because I like football and obviously not because I'm all 'Yay Olympics!' but more of the fact that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. When else in my life am I going to be offered a front row seat to an Olympic event?  Never again, I can pretty much guarantee. Most sadly, I had to say no as there was no one to watch Henry on that short of notice and still get to Manchester in time (granted, if there was no Henry, I'd be working and I'd still have to say no)(grrr). Since I don't have a cool “I was at the Olympics” story for you, you can read hers.

In case you were wondering, in this house, on this sofa, it's definitely a Team USA! place to be. Unless of course you are on the other side of the same sofa, in the same house, then it's all Team GB up in your face. Henry is supporting Team Horse and is thus far quite disappointed the black one with the white spots hasn't gotten the gold yet.

24 July 2012

About f*cking time...

This is just a short service announcement to let you know that summer has finally arrived in the UK. It's OK to visit us now. Pack some sunscreen and shorts but don't forget your umbrella and your finest wool sweater because, you know, it's Britain...shit can change.

This is also the England of My Imagination...all this is missing is Mr. Darcy wet from the pond.

19 July 2012

The Scouser and the American go to a reception

So one of the other things I had always wanted to do once I got to England was to go to an English wedding. If I'm to be honest, the reason for this completely had to do with the elaborate hats the women in this country wear to such events. Somewhere deep in my soul I wanted to have a reason to wear multiple feathers and flowers and hell, throw in a live bird since we're all here, on top of my head. Oh sure, I can at any time wear feathers and flowers and for all intents and purposes a live chipmunk on my head because it's my right as a human to, but it would be without reason. Not that I haven't done things without reason before, but when you get to live animals perched on your noggin perhaps it is best to have an explanation.

I could totally pull this off.

This past weekend Andy and I were FINALLY invited to an English wedding. Well, we were only invited to the reception which means I am still looking for a reason to wear a fancy hat on my head, but at least I got to see all the other women's hats up close and personal like. You know, to weed out (pun intended) what I liked and what I didn't when it finally came to my moment of glorified hat wearing.

The wedding reception we were invited to was being held by one of Andy's friends from back in California. His friend is British and was working in the States on a work visa until he was downsized from his job. As per the stipulations of his US work visa, he had to leave the US pretty immediately (Andy and I can't remember if it was 10 days or a whole month but it was a fucking short period of time to get your whole life together to move back to the UK). While the whole being kicked out of the country because your employer can't keep you sucks some major ass, it ended up working out for the guy as he reconnected with his university girlfriend, had a beautiful baby girl, and obviously got hitched. Yay him. And yay us, as we got to go to the reception.

The dress...that train was kept out for the entire night.  Yes, I may have stepped on it a few times.

Now to clarify, as I had to have Andy do to me that day – the reception in British terms doesn't seem to be the complete same as in American terms. In the States it's not completely uncommon to have a small family-only type wedding ceremony but then have an everyone's invited to the reception type thing. The reception being both a sit down dinner (or buffet) with the drinking and dancing afterward. In British terms it appears to be a 3 part affair – the wedding ceremony, the wedding sit down dinner, then the reception. People who are invited to the ceremony are invited to the sit down dinner. People who are only invited to the reception do not get dinner (though we got some pub grub buffet style late in the evening).

The groom and my groom.  Groovy.

The reception was in Burnley, which is a small town about an hour out of Liverpool. If you've never heard of Burnley, that's alright. It's Burnley after all, which meant the next morning I was very content staying in bed for an extra couple hours because I was in no rush to get up and explore Burnley. The actual reception was in one of those old stone, not quite a castle, hotel type places with high ceilings and furniture from your great grandfather's time. They did have a very gorgeous atrium which screams of the England of my imagination and I spent a lot of time in there drinking cider. Bulmers No17 if I'm to be specific, and the 80 year old bartender corrected me every time I ordered it. “It's not 'balm-ers', it's 'bull-mers'.”

 I love me a nice atrium.  It's like being in nature but with less bugs.

Andy gets very poetic around nature.  Which is why we try to keep him out of it.

Nature just makes me giggle.  No wait, that's the cider.

Obviously we didn't bring Henry with us because we didn't feel like being responsible that evening. As it was, 80% of the people we talked to either had kids there or had kids sleeping in the hotel room upstairs with their nans. It also happens that these kids all seemed to be around Henry's age so even though he wasn't there, he was talked about quite a bit. Parents of small children don't have much in the way of lives so we talk about our kid's lives instead. I basically came away that evening knowing that there isn't a kid in the history of the world that sleeps properly and I kind of feel better about it now.

I hid behind Andy because my dress showed off too much of my tits.  No really, it did.

That was a big part of the evening. Andy and I actually got to talk to people. Oh sure, it was mostly about our kids but we were talking. And what I found peculiar is that it appears in a social environment like a wedding, English people are more than happy to give you their name! Hurray! Not that I remembered any of the names, I was drinking cider, remember?

About the time things got really REALLY fun.

The best bit of the whole evening though came towards the end when this drunken women stumbled outside where we were all smoking cigarettes in the rain. “Oh hey!” she said to Andy and me, “You're the Scouser and the American, right?” I don't know why but I LOVED that. The Scouser and the American....that's totally a movie title right there.

Anyhow, we ended the evening shortly after midnight after the hotel bar closed down.

“We'll take a pint of Carling and a Strawberry Balm-ers please.”

“We aren't serving anymore.”

“Andy! Hey Andy! I think it's time we head back to the hotel.”

“Why?”

“They aren't serving anymore.”

“You know, you're right. We should probably head back. We have a bottle of wine there, right?”

“Absolutely. And egg mayo sandwiches!”

 Best wishes to you both.

I didn't get to wear feathers, flowers, or a live kookaburra on my head, but it was still a really great night.

05 July 2012

British Bits (Non-Dirty Version)

So I've been saving little bits I've come across in my British life and tucked them away for a rainy day when I didn't have much else to write about. Since it's been monsoon weather for the last forever days, the “rainy day” analogy is quite apt. Also, since it's been raining (and raining and raining and fuck me it's never going to be summer again) and we haven't done anything more than look mournfully out the window wondering if the sun still actually exists, I think it's time I whipped these bits out. That sounded dirty. Heh.

As a quick side note: Seeing as my peoples in Wisconsin are suffering through 100+ temps with humidity, this is all I'm going to say about the rain* we've been having (rainy-est summer since 1910!). I will forever trade 'never feeling dry again' to 'sweating my tits off while never feeling dry again'.

BRITISH BIT #1: The Milk Man

From my understanding, you can still get milk delivered to your door 1950's style in the States. I personally have never seen such services advertised, nor have I seen any deliveries around the neighborhood in the States, nor do I know any milkmen, save the dead kind (punk joke). I hear it's still done though so if you are interested, I'd start doing some web searches. Here in England, milk delivery is certainly not as popular as it was 50 years ago, but it's still going at a fair pace. We have some elderlies who live next door to us who get their milk delivered so every few days one of these pulls up outside:


This is called a 'milk float'. I don't know why. It's an electric powered vehicle (like a golf cart or Duffy boat) and I think the top speed is something like 20 mph. You see, if you are delivering milk at the ass crack of dawn, you need a quiet motor. It's also an open setup so the milkman can get the milk easily without a noisy door opening and closing all the time. This also means that if you are crafty enough, you can nick yourself a bottle.

I Do Not Condone the Nicking of Milk...I'm just saying, you know, in general.

Seriously though, I have never stolen milk. I stole a singing, jiggling, light up spider from Target once when I was 16, but never milk off a milk float.


BRITISH BIT #2: Informative AA signs

Before Beth asks (and I know she will after seeing the picture), the AA is the British Motoring Association. Basically, it's the UK version of AAA (Pronounced to the non-Yanks as 'triple-a'). There isn't a single person in the UK over the age of 25 (including those who do not drive) who do not have a waiting for the AA tow truck story to tell you. You could probably get that story from them two years before you get their first name so you know, it's something to start a conversation with anyhow.

Unlike the States, in the UK, it appears that the AA has full right to put up legal road signs directing one to attractions they think drivers might be interested in. For example:


I like to think of it as driving along the I-5 in LA to see proper road sign telling me that 'Stan's Medical Marijuana is 2 miles, next left'.


BRITISH BIT #3: You tell me what 24 hours means

Ah Tesco...open 24 hours except on the weekend when, you know, it might actually be useful.



BRITISH BIT #4: The after effects of rain can be pretty

I took this from our back patio (sorry, back garden)(there is no plants or grass in our garden, it's just concrete so I don't know why I have to call it a 'garden') after we've had a bit of rain (ha ha...it's always raining). I liked this picture a lot, so I modified it to have a fancy frame so you can tell me how awesome my photography is. It obviously didn't look as impressive without the frame. See if you can spot the magical fairies!


Just kidding, there are no magical fairies in this photo. It's still pretty though, right?


BRITISH BIT #5: Tequila

Even though the weather has said otherwise, it is technically summer. When it turns summer, an old girl's thoughts turn to margaritas. You thought I'd say strappy shoes and light salad dressing didn't you? You didn't? Oh, bless you, you are starting to know me. Finding a place that serves margaritas is, well, difficult. When you do find a place that sell them, they are overpriced and never taste quite like the ones back home. Not knowing how to make a margarita is, quite frankly, appalling. Next the barmen here will tell me they don't know how to make a Harvey Wallbanger or a Monkey Gland. However, the overpriced bit, well, I kind of understand.

Below are the prices for the smallest (50cl or 16 oz) bottles of tequila. Oh, who am I kidding? In 3 stores, this was ALL they had for tequila. If you went for the cheapest bottle there, you'd still be paying $16.50 for it. That bottle of Jager? $28 US dollars. Thank god I'm not 19 anymore or I'd be really bummed about that.


On the upside, if I was 19 I'd be happily enjoying these WKD, commonly known as 'alcopops'. My 19 year old self – holding a sad looking, heartburn inducing wine cooler in my hand – is jealous. My 38 year old self is appalled at the youth of today.



BRITISH BIT #6: Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah

If you are an anglophile you probably already know of HP Sauce. You probably have a bottle of it in your fridge right now, bought from the Cost Plus World Market saved for those rare times you pick up a couple of Cumberland sausages from the specialty butcher. Hey, I'm not making fun of you – I WAS you. You probably also love Guinness because there is a rare anglophile that doesn't. Well Anglophile, this is for you. Actually, it's not for you because you don't live here. Ha ha ha ha ha!!! Don't get too depressed, I'm sure you got to wear shorts sometime this year already.



BRITISH BIT #7: This is fucked up in any country

When I'm in Liverpool One wasting time with Henry, we always end up going to John Lewis at some point because they have, hands down, the best toilets. That is to say that they have a lot of toilets and many of them are big enough to fit myself and Henry's stroller in. I rarely buy anything at John Lewis – even though I really love their shit – because it's expensive. I once bought something there on sale for 4 pounds and twice I bought FUCKING HELL, HOW MUCH? pajamas for Henry because I couldn't find any other place that had footy pajamas with zippers (I know, right?) even though I fucking looked (I paid 18 pounds ($28) for a single pair of pajamas – and we used the SHIT out of them, I made sure of it). What I'm trying to say is, John Lewis is great if you are the type that has extra money that you're not really doing anything else with. If I was rich, I'd shop at John Lewis all the time. I would not, however, pay 225 pounds ($350) for a trash can.


Don't believe me? Here's the close up:


When I walked through and saw this, I stopped to examine the bin. Was it automatic? No. Did it self clean? No. Did it come with a butler service to empty it for you every day? Sadly no. It is a metal trash bin with a non-slip base. Apparently it has a 5 year guarantee. Whoop-fucking-dee. For that price it ought to be big enough to hide in in the event of a nuclear war.

So that's what I've got for you this week. Oh, apparently a 'somersault' is called a 'roly-poly' here.

*I still ended up complaining more about the weather. Go figure.