25 August 2012


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.


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.


….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.


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.