Saturday, December 25, 2010

An American Girlfriend In London, Pt 7: Christmas 2010

I was going to write a blog post.... but I just didn't feel like it. So instead, today, you get a video... of me. There is a part of me that really wants to apologize for sitting here in a sweatshirt with no make up, and messy hair covered by a hat I've had on since noon, but I won't, 'cause this IS me. Well, it's me home alone and ready for bed....


(I have NO idea why the sound & video don't seem to be lining up properly, sorry)

&

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An American Girlfriend In London, Pt 6: The New London Eye?


About two weeks ago the vision in my right eye went cloudy. Not the eyeball itself, just the way things looked. There was no injury, no signs, no redness, no itching, no irritation, no scratch, no makeup or moisturizer in my eye, nada, zip, zero, zilch. I assumed at the time that it was my contact lens, and so I took them out. The following morning I put on my nerd glasses and the eye was still cloudy. I washed my face, put drops in my eyes… no change. Days went by… no change.
After about four days I was up walking on the high street near here and saw a Boots eyewear shop. I figured there'd be an eye Dr. in there since people need to get prescriptions for glasses, right? They had to have some equipment that could see past the obvious, right?  Wrong. Other than wasting about £40 to be told to put a warm washcloth over my eyes for 10 minutes a day, I got nothin'. NO answers.

A week later, after being told by the BF that I should just go to the local hospital down the road and not bother with the "private practice" people… I went. Though I should say "I spent"… not money… but 5 hours. Yes, FIVE FUCKING HOURS in the waiting room. Well. more like 4 hrs. 15 minutes since the first 45 min were spent going from desk to desk to desk at the hospital since no one seemed to know much of anything.

One office: They ask me if I am diabetic, I tell them no, they then tell me they can't see me since they only deal with diabetics. In my frustration I offer to head back to the high street and eat a couple dozen cupcakes to give myself diabetes. While the other patients in the waiting room found this hysterical, the receptionist did not… and sent me to yet another office.

(insert 3 other offices/desks here, none of them helpful AT ALL)

Another office: Since I didn't have a primary care physician, nor did I have any obvious medical emergencies (i.e an axe sticking out of my cranium), I was told I needed to go to the ER section and see someone there…

 
ER: they took my info, told me to have a seat… and for 4 hours and 45 minutes my ass sat there in silence. Wish the same could be said for the family with two small children that didn't shut up for more than 10 seconds during those 4 hours and 45 minutes. They weren't speaking english, so I have no idea what was so important that the husband and wife couldn't shut up. They weren't even fighting… just non-stop (VERY LOUD) jibber jab. It was getting on my every last nerve.. but still I sat… waiting, quietly, hands in my lap, in silence… for 4 HOURS AND 45 MINUTES!

When a Dr. finally came out and called my name I almost cried tears of joy… but held back for fear of screwing up whatever tests they were hopefully about to run. Know what they did? The very nice (& decidedly hot) Dr looked in my eyes with a small light, put some iodine drops in my eyes, looked at them again, flushed the iodine out... and said "what would you like first? The good news, or the bad news?" … I gotta admit, I was actually excited for the bad news at this point because in my head it meant he knew what was wrong.

"Both, in one sentence" I told him. So he says "well, good news is that I didn't see anything wrong, because the bad news is that the equipment here is not any good for this sort of thing and you'll have to go see a private care physician." He gave me a print out of the place he recommended, oddly enough it was the place I had originally wanted to go that the BF told me not to bother with. So… the next day I emailed them, and asked for info about an appointment. When I finally heard back two or three days later the email told me that a consultation, not even a fucking exam, would be £200 to £250… yeah, that's almost $400… so guess whose eye miraculously cleared up a day later? (It totally didn't, I'm just faking it till I get back to the states and can go see a Dr that won't cost me an arm and a leg… almost $400 is downright retarded)

So, yeah, I'm walking around these days with a really cloudy eye that makes seeing things at night a royal pain in the ass. On sunny days I am stupid enough to put my contacts in because I can not see in bright sunlight without sunglasses on, and wearing my glasses makes wearing sunglasses impossible (…or just plain awkward, 'cause I don't think glasses of any sort were meant to be layered- even in the 80'.) Yeah, wearing my glasses sucks- especially in the winter when they fog up every time I walk through a door where the temperature changes. Makes me want to invent a wee wiper blade that swishes across the lenses, how cool would THAT be?!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

An American Girlfriend In London, Pt 5: Excuse You

 I can not even begin to tell you how many times I have witnessed this over the past month, and it truly shocks me: NO ONE IN LONDON CLOSES DOORS.

It's freezing here, and the heat is on in all establishments, but no one seems to bother to close the door after they enter or exit, EVER. In just the past 20 minutes I have witnessed the door to the back terrace at the cafe where I sit be opened by 10 different people, not one of them closed it behind them. Do they think that because they are brave enough to sit outside in the cold that all the people inside must get the chills too?

I am more than a little obsessed with keeping doors shut due to my very drafty house back home in the states... plus the drafty house here in London where I am living needs doors to stay shut or the rooms will never get warm. I've witnessed this all over the city; in restaurants, shops, and even other people's homes. Seriously though, what is with people? Is it that hard to close a door? You opened it to get in/out... then eventually one of the staff here, or maybe me, closed it when your inconsiderate ass left it open... why not try being polite? Close the fucking door!

Don't get me wrong, many (like most) Americans are rude as fuck... and they seem to be even worse in the summer... like if they leave enough doors & windows open they'll manage to cool down the air outside. Dear Idiots- YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!

I've also been noticing that people rarely say "pardon me" or "excuse me" when they bump into you.... moreover when they bump into me. The other day I actually stopped to look in a store window to check my reflection to see if maybe I had a sign somewhere on me reading "please pretend I'm a bumper car"... nope, wasn't there. Or was it? Maybe I just can't see it? I'm one inch shy of 6' tall, with bright fuchsia streaks in my hair... I'm not what one would call "easy to miss"... maybe that's the problem? I'm so in their face that they have no choice but to bump into me? I'm gonna go with that one, it almost makes sense... almost.

I'm really in no mood to be writing a post right now... and in the 5 minutes since I started, the door to this back terrace has been opened by 6 different people, none of them shutting it behind them. It was always one of the busy staff running from the front of the cafe to close it. WTF?

At least I've been smart enough to always sit in the far back corner so no one even has the option to bump into me... and I can just watch their inconsiderate asses waste some more heat/money. Guess people figure if they aren't paying for it... they're not paying for it. I'm sure this happens everywhere... but I'm not everywhere... I'm here.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An American Girlfriend In London, Pt 4: What A Riot

A VERY good friend of mine (Doug) that I've known since I was like 14, is in London on business this week (woohoo!) and tonight (his last night) we met up for a bite to eat and to catch up since we hadn't seen each other since spring.

I don't recall the place we ate at, and it wasn't a "real" meal per se ...just a massive plate of chips (french fries) & a variety of sausages (um... YUM! Seriously.. YUM!!!) We had been sitting around waiting for the BF to show up and after an hour or so decided to move to somewhere to get a cup of tea/coffee ... and as we left the restaurant we were greeted by this:

 (click to enlarge)
I walked up to one of the cops in their riot gear and asked him "What's going on?"
He replied "I don't know, you tell me..." and smiled.
I just looked at him funny and said "Ok, what's your name? I'll go run up ahead and shout back for you" and started to walk away.... then this happened...
video
 It was fairly intense for a few moments there.  But did I manage to catch THAT on video? No. (That would have been too awesome apparently....) I was so taken aback by the sight that greeted us outside the restaurant that I had whipped out my camera, and as soon as the first picture was taken the cops started marching so I filmed THAT moment. (it was a VERY creepy sound BTW) People were rushing around and shouting, and Doug & I had NO idea what was going on, so I asked another bystander. They told us it was in regards to the recent changes in the college tuition policies. (Apparently they want to change the fees for English (not Welsh or Scottish) students from £3000 to £9000... and not too many people are all that pleased about it. There have been loads of demonstrations around the city, a MASSIVE riot about a week ago, and tonight there was a whole mess of angry protesters around London, and the police were trying to get them all into one place to keep an eye on them in Trafalgar Square. (I don't think they were keeping too close an eye since they seemed to miss the guy spray painting "TORY SCUM" on the statue known as Nelsons Column. (Nelsons Column is basically the London equivalent of The Washington Monument and was once known as the center of town as well.) Doug got a good shot of that on his phone.

We finally made it through the crowds, found an empty coffee shop, and went in... getting hot cocoa... 'cause not much says "we're wild, crazy, and live on the edge" like hot cocoa, ya know? The BF eventually showed up. Doug & the BF finally got to meet, and I am happy to report they got along famously... as they should. I would have to break up with the BF if he didn't like Doug, not even kidding. Doug is that fantastic... and I love that he and I got to see the oddities of tonight together.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

An American Girlfriend in London Pt 3: WTF-UK

This would be the blog post where no matter how hard I try not to sound like I'm complaining or trying to pull the "that's not how we do it in America" card… I'll fail miserably. I'm really not too worried about it though, because I feel the overwhelming need to get some of this out….

I do realize that the area am currently living in here in London (Hackney) is not what many would consider "LONDON"… but it is London. It's a part of London…. and London has done (or technically NOT done) quite a few things since I've been here this time around to make me wonder why it is listed when people talk of bustling metropolises (i.e "New York, Paris, Rome, London…") of the world.



We have received a total of approx. 1½ inches of snow here in the past 5 days, a mere dusting really (& yes, I realize other surrounding areas got loads more, and Scotland is like closed… 'cause they got slammed)… know what London did? Shut down. Seriously. The transit system went all loopy; schools closed; airports closed; mail even ceased to be delivered, & I just sat here totally stupefied. No mail? Are you F'n kidding me? (Dear USPS- You RULE!!) I only noticed this because I had been waiting on a few things, like my bank card, to arrive… and after waiting since the 16th of November, about two days ago I hoofed it across Hackney to the bank (it ain't close) to find out what the hold up was, fully convinced that HSBC stood for "Her Slow Bank Card", and I quickly found out that HSBC apparently stands for "Her Sucktastic Bank Corporation" 'cause those asshats mailed my bank card to my AMERICAN address. (WHAT?!) Know what the woman at the bank said to me? "You know, you didn't have to walk all the way here, you could have just called." This would be the moment where I consciously had to stop my eyes from rolling and turning into über bitchy American chick, and I calmly replied:  "Well, I would have called… if I had a phone… which I don't… and can't get till the bank card arrives, nor can I access the money I put in there till then either. So, as you can see, walking across the city to here was the only option."

Anyway.. that mild annoyance regarding the bank card is just that, a mild annoyance. All of these things are just mild annoyances and/or occurrences of "huh, that's odd" variety. Another example would be the package I have been waiting for. Each day this week I sat here patiently waiting for the *kErThUmP* noise the mail makes when it is shoved through the mail slot in the front door. I must admit, I do like that sound, but that is mostly due to the fact that back home on the island where I live mail is not delivered to houses; I have to go pick everything up at the post office. Home delivery seems like such a treat to me… so waiting for the postman to show up with a package was nice… till I gave up the other day and left the house around 2:30pm to go to the cafe down the road to use the internet… since we still don't have any here (more on THAT in a moment)… After I left…the post came, my package was here, at the front door… and it left. All I got was as slip of paper telling me to call for redelivery- with my nonexistent phone apparently- or I could walk to the package pick up center (about a mile or two away) and go get it myself.

Today, after getting directions from the BF as to the location of this package pick up center, I walked up there. It took FOREVER. Know why? Everything is coated in ice. According to one of the BF's housemates (AIR: Artist In Residence is the name given to him on the BF's blog, so I think I'll just use that one here as well), shops and homeowners alike are told to NOT shovel/scrape the areas in front of their properties, nor can they put down salt or sand… all because someone might slip on the salt or sand and sue. (But falling flat on your ass due to massive amounts of ice is okay?….) So, yeah, the only shoes I can wear for extended periods of time in this weather (chuck taylors) have ZERO traction (or warmth) on anything other than a basketball court (& while I am 1" shy of 6', and can palm a basket ball.… I don't play)…. Soooooo there I am taking baby steps and walking (slipping & sliding really) all the way up this road to find the package pick up center. I found it with no problem, but was more than a little shocked that I couldn't buy stamps anywhere in the building or nearby. I asked about 10 different people as I continued walking down the icy sidewalks, and FINALLY I found a post office. I bought 2 stamps (so that I wouldn't have to come back that way for a while), and mailed the one envelope I brought with me… and started to head back to the house.

Once I made it back to the road where I first began my trek I realized it was actually getting COLDER out… and there was even more ice on the sidewalks. I saw an ambulance loading a person in front of a grocery store… a grocery store with a HUGE patch of ice out front. Rocket science wasn't needed to figure out what happened… but the overheard conversation as I skated by ("Poor thing, she was just trying to hurry and get out of the cold" said a woman, "should have been wearing shoes with better traction" said a man) basically confirmed my theory. (I totally wanted to turn to the guy and be like "dude! way to kick someone when they're down! dick!") Behind the ambulance was a large van that was stuck on the ice. I wanted to cross the street, but not only was I completely bemused by the situation and the fact that right behind the numbskull that was attempting to push the van there was a large pile of cardboard that would have instantly afforded them the traction needed to get back on the road… but I didn't want to cross the road anywhere near this giant van that could have fishtailed at any second and, well, killed me. I am not ready to die… I got stuff to do.

As I rounded a corner I noticed a man, with a wheelbarrow, chucking fistfuls of sand onto the road. Homeboy was like a neon jacketed flower girl at the wedding of ice & wind. I couldn't help but wonder why a city like London didn't have some massive salt/sand trucks to help in these situations. I mean, a lone dude, in a bright yellow jacket, with a wheelbarrow on a major road…. it just doesn't seem to make sense. I'm sure in the main part of the city, where all the wealthy people live/work, there are salt trucks that can attend to the city's needs… but I was shocked by the lil' dude in the yellow jacket.

Now I am back at the house, typing this, wishing there was internet… and knowing that we probably won't even have it till mid-January at the earliest. THIS irks me. I could understand a week long wait… but honestly, this is retarded. Back home I wanted to switch providers, made a phone call, drove 3 miles, picked up a new router, plugged it in, an *poof* new internet in under an hour, America, Fuck Yeah! (even on the boring, tiny, no option havin', wee island…) Apparently the only way to get internet here, if you aren't going through your cable company (I have yet to explore the options of that one since there is no cable here at the house anyway), is to have a land line installed, and THEN you can get internet. Problem is getting someone here to do it. One of the BF's housemates is in charge of this (Not sure what to call him here… but Drunky McDrunkerson would be apropos… seriously, he is a hardcore alcoholic. I have never seen a human plow through booze the way he does… but he is nice enough. Very odd, totally quirky in the most annoying ways, and void of all social skills, but nice enough… I'll leave the part about him clearly having issues with women for another post,) So, yeah, DMD said he'd take care of all this… but he's more than a little flaky- so if the BF & AIR aren't on top of this… I will spend the rest of winter freezing my ass off up at the cafe so that I can post my ramblings ….& check email/facebook/and all the other stuff one uses the internet for.

I miss my WiFi… I also miss my big comfy girly bed with it's retarded amount of pillows, the feather bed topper, and the down filled duvet… and I miss my wood burning stove…. I miss not having my nose run INSIDE … I miss 80% of my clothes ….. I miss my refrigerator, and not just because it's massive & awesome, mainly I just miss it because it isn't filled with questionable things that very well might have expired during the Clinton administration. Plus it has more room than the shoe box sized fridge here. I miss my speedy and efficient washer & dryer. I miss grocery stores where I actually know where & what everything is. I miss my best friend & her two son's, A LOT….. I even miss my housemate Colin and the 130lb beast (Niela). I do NOT miss having everything I own coated in her hair, or her deciding at 3:30am that she needs to go out to pee and I am her Obi Wan. She can't go out on her own, she's too friendly and if she sees a skunk she'll be all "Hey kitty! Wanna play?! Can I sniff your butt?" - trust me, she did this quite a few times one month a summer or so back. You'd think just once would have been enough to teach her a lesson… nope. We've been really good about keeping an eye on her ever since…. easier than bathing her, that's for sure. (BTW- best thing to get rid of skunk stink? Dish soap. Don't believe that "tomato juice" lie… it doesn't work. It'll just make your dog smell like a salad… a skunky salad. Dish soap cuts up and breaks down the oils that the skunk just coated your dog in… and they'll smell lemony fresh :) It will dry their skin out big time though, so if you have some doggy shampoo for sensitive skin on hand (which you should if your a dog owner)..wash 'um with that after.)

That all reminds me… know what else I miss? Dish soap that doesn't make your palms peel and your nails turn into brittle, weak, pieces of paper. (Damn you "Fairy Soap®"!) There are also things that I don't necessarily miss, but wonder what ever happened to. Things like Jello®. I am pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but the fact that I can't find any Jello® products it just so weird to me. No Campbells® soups either… or Betty Crocker/Duncan Hines…and…….. <*insert solitary tear of remembrance here*>… no Strawberry Twizzlers®, that one is sad as hell.

Ok, I'm done. I do love London, and I am enjoying myself… and I do realize that for every difference I find there is an opportunity to potentially discover something even better than what I was originally looking for… but the lack of Strawberry Twizzlers® is a travesty. For real.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

An American Girlfriend in London Pt 2: Maybe I Am Lucky After All

Americans continue to celebrate… Thanksgiving has thrived. I have a theory…. I think I know why. Other than pumpkin pie (which F'n rules!), I think a lot of people eventually decided that Thanksgiving wasn't so much a day of remembrance/observance for a (fictional) moment in the country's past, but instead decide to just take advantage of a day where expressing gratitude, or even just allowing one's self to reflect and acknowledge that they are indeed thankful for many things, is the way to go.
I, however, am a total cynic. I pretty much quit trying to find things to be thankful for when it felt like everything else was falling to shit. I basically just wanted my day off to be MY DAY OFF. I was totally selfish (which IS okay to be sometimes, you know) and didn't want to have to go sit around eating food I wasn't the biggest fan of (ok, the desserts are always pretty slammin', but if that's all I ate I'd be like 300lbs by the time Black Friday was over.) I still intend to spend my future Thanksgivings the way I have these past few years, and I will still charge a pie tax to anyone that shows up at the door, but I might let it slide if someone shows up in their PJs, or stays over the night before. Though…should it ever come up, if I am ever asked in earnest and deem a reply in order to "what are you thankful for?"….I'll tell you, what occurred on Thanksgiving this year (ironically in a country that doesn't celebrate it…) will eternally go down as one of my most thankful moments ever. EVER. Like in the whole history of ever.
…and because I am writing this post specifically so I can tell you all about it….The following is the 100% true, 110% totally unbelievable, 150% smile inducing story:

 On Thanksgiving Day I wandered down the road to the cafe I love (Venetia's) to use their internet, and this time I was prepared for the frigid temperature (-1˚c/ 30˚f) while out back (so I can smoke if I want to, and I wanted to.) I had on a hooded sweatshirt, a fleece jacket, and the BF's puffy parka, as well as jeans, leggings, 2 pairs of socks (one pr. thigh high), a thick scarf, and a hat. I eventually had to take the hat off because I was so warm I feared flames would shoot out my ears if it stayed on a moment longer.

While at the cafe I got the chance to see/speak to one of my very best friends (Wendy Mae) via Skype, without interruption or feeling like people were annoyed by the noise, since I was the only person bananas enough to sit outside in weather like that and had the entire back garden of the cafe to myself. I had mentioned to Wendy Mae that the BF wanted to go see a comedy show that evening and that I was actually kind of excited to go. I liked the idea of traveling to a part of London I might normally never see, as well as hopeful that the people performing would be funny. At about 4:30pm, not knowing when we would be leaving to go out I thought it would be prudent to close up the lap top & stop at one of the markets on the way home to grab some things to make dinner with. (red, green, & yellow peppers, and some popcorn for popping if you really want to know….)

Upon returning home I asked the BF what time the show started. He said "7:45pm," which I found more than a little odd, but as you all may have noticed, I have been finding multiple things here in London more than a little odd. I hadn't known anyone to head out for the evening any earlier than 9pm in years…. but at 6:15 we left the house and started walking up to the bus stop where the bus we wanted would take us pretty much to the front door of the bar where the comedy show was happening.

I reached for my Oyster Card and said that I thought we should stop somewhere and let me top up. I didn't think I even had £1 left on it (turned out there was only .40 pence left). We walked into one of those random shops that seems to sell everything… and lets you top up your Oyster Card. You know the place, right? They sell electrical goods, kids toys, cigarettes, random tchotchke, and jewelry… among other things.
I reached inside the fleece jacket for my wallet. I had been keeping it in this really deep inner pocket on the inside 'cause I didn't want to take a purse since I hate carrying one (love them, just hate carrying them), and it just bops around & gets in the way when we are out because the BF walks so fast you'd think his ass was on fire. Seriously, my legs are much longer than his but I have spent so many year slowing my gait, so that my shorter friends wouldn't get left in the dust, that his "Turbo BF" style of walking can necessitate a nap in preparation.

Anyway, we enter the shop, tell them we need to top up our Oyster Cards and I pull out my wallet, open it, and prepare to pull some money out. The BF just shoots me a look and tells me to put it away as he hands the man behind the counter £5 and tells the guy to top up my card as well. I thank the BF and go to slip the wallet back into the deep inner pocket. Mind you, my wallet is quite large. It's not my only wallet, but it's a huge Coach one I love for its durability and the fact that it zips shut (not to mention that I got it for a MAJOR discount years ago in Florida at a Coach outlet) and since coin is given more often than bills in the UK I thought it would be best to keep it all contained.

My pockets were stuffed full of things that night. Lip goop (like 3 different kinds… 'cause I'm mildly obsessed with it), some tobacco & papers, a pack of cigarettes, house keys, pen, paper, tissues (which are totally necessary in this weather… 'cause I don't know about you, but when the weather is chilly my nose runs like a faucet), and … my wallet. I still had my Oyster Card in my hand when we left the shop 'cause the bus stop was at the end of the next block and I really didn't want to have to undo both jackets again to get it back into my wallet. When the bus arrived we hopped on, sat down, and laughed about how perfectly on time we were going to be… even though I was seriously doubting a comedy show at a bar would begin at 7:45pm.

I asked the BF which stop we were getting off at, he told me "Limehouse" then informed me it was a not for a while. I decided that it was warm enough in the bus to open up my coat and put my Oyster Card away… I unsnapped the puffy jacket…. unzipped the fleece jacket…. reached my hand in to pull out my wallet… and then felt my heart drop, bounce off my uterus, fly up my throat, then turn ice cold.

My wallet was gone.



I turned to the BF and tried to say in the calmest, but most serious voice possible "my wallet is missing." His eyes got really wide as I just kept pointlessly checking every pocket over and over again… hoping that I was somehow accidentally bypassing a 6" x 3" solid black leather wallet with a zipper that surrounded ¾ of it. The BF dropped to his knees in the aisle and looked under the seat and in the surrounding area… then he grabbed my hand and pulled me off at the next stop. We stood there for about 30 seconds looking at the bus schedule to see which bus was headed there next, and how we could get back to where we started as quickly as possible. In all honesty I was just standing there unable to focus. Not like I would have understood the maps/schedules anyway. On that night the most I could have done is tell someone the sign post was made of metal. How I was not in absolute tears yet is beyond me… but the panic was setting in.

I carry too much stuff in that wallet and I am stupid enough to have totally irreplaceable things in there. Business cards & papers with important phone numbers; a small charm for a bracelet that my Grandmother had gotten for me back in the 70's; my drivers license; my credit card; receipts for important things; a faux diamond ring (that looks REALLY real- till you see the tape wrapped around the inner band to make it fit 'cause it's too big) that I keep with me when I travel alone on planes (which is pretty much always); a cherished photograph of Wendy Mae's sons, Leif & Olin whom I adore… basically a bunch of stuff, only some of it (like the money- which was all of £15 in bills and probably £7 in coin) useful to a person that might find it.

The BF grabbed my hand and pulled me across the street to a cab for hire stand and we took a cab back to where the store we topped up our Oyster Cards was. I think I was babbling & murmuring the whole way. Upset, and totally freaking out on the inside, trying not to cry… mentally making a list of all the things that would have to be cancelled, replaced, people that might need to be called should someone get hold of any of their info that was in there. I didn't give a fuck about the money, or the faux diamond ring… the thing that freaked me out the most was the charm from my Grandmother. I traveled with it at all times, it was a cherished talisman… and my Grandmother died in 1987 when I was a freshman in high school, it's not like I could count on her sneaking me a wee gift this year over Christmas.

The more I thought about it, the more I felt my body shaking. I pretty much wanted to puke… and I was scared. All sorts of things were racing through my mind…..I'm in another country… I have no cell phone (yet), no access to any money till the bank I opened an account at here sends me my new bank card (which, btw is really taking FOREVER), no way to sign anything to get cards or ID replaced. I can't even apply for a new drivers license on line because I don't have a credit card now. I had to resign myself to the fact that the irreplaceable business cards and slips of paper with important contact info were gone for good which meant those people attached to them were as well. It all felt so final. I think I moved into an autopilot state of mind and just functioned on the most basic level. Motor skills and nothing else for a bit.

When the cab arrived back where we started our evening I leapt out of the car and just started walking, no idea where I was heading. I even said to the BF "I have no idea where I am." He took my hand, gave it a good squeeze, and we started walking. I think I might even have been walking faster than him at one point. He was so calm, so reassuring… and that helped. It helped A LOT. I kept apologizing to him. I'm not sure what I was sorry for… but I felt bad. We had been heading out to meet up with a friend of his to go out for the evening, have some drinks, laugh… and there I was totally helpless, miserable, on the verge of tears (which, in retrospect, might have attempted to escape my eyes… but it was so fucking cold out that as one tear drop popped it's head out and felt the temperature I'm sure it pretty much said "oh hell no!" and probably joined the never ending nasal drip.)

We made it back to the shop we topped up at as they were closing, they listened to the BF explain what we were looking for, took one look at my face and invited me to walk into the shop under the half closed security door. I peeked around on the floor by the door, walked all the way back to the spot where I last remembered having it in my hand and actually felt pangs of loss. It was like revisiting the scene of a horrible tragedy. We left there as they very kind shop keepers said they would keep an eye out for it and if it was turned into them they'd hold onto it and we should check back in a day or two. I knew that wouldn't happen, but I thanked them nonetheless.

As we walked back to the bus stop I noticed a crew of sanitation workers cleaning up the streets. I wandered over to them and politely interrupted them asking, with the most hopeful voice I could muster, if there was any chance any of them came across a large black leather wallet. They said no. They asked me if there was money in it… I told them "not much, not enough to care about really" and then they stood there consoling me and asking questions, attempting to make me feel better. Once they found out my license and credit card were in there, audible "Oofs!" were heard all around and they gave me some of the kindest, most heartfelt smiles of understanding. I asked one of them "what are the chances that someone found it and turned it into the police station around the corner?… it could happen, right?" The man looked me dead in the eye and said "Love, I will hope with all my heart that is true, but this is not a good part of the city, I wouldn't count on it, I'm sorry." I then felt a few tears slide down my cheeks at that moment. I thanked all of them for taking the time to talk to me, and told them they were all very kind.

As the BF and and I started to walk back towards the police station to file a report on the off chance someone ever found it and turned it in, one of the sanitation workers called out to me and said "do you have any money? do you NEED money?" and reached for his wallet to offer me something. The BF and I both thanked him profusely and declined the offer with huge smiles. It was one of the most random, kindest things that has happened to me in ages. I felt like the Grinch when he finds his Christmas spirit and his heart grows. Seriously, I was enveloped in warmth in that moment. Random human kindness is so underrated.

The man that owned the shop across the street from where the sanitation workers were doing their job had come out, heard the story, and told me to come back and check in with him as well in a day or so and he'd keep his eyes and ears open among the surrounding shops should anyone find it. He got a hearty handshake and a smile from me as well.

We made our way to the police station and the BF stopped me in my tracks just once to prevent the tears with a warm hug, it helped. As much as the situation totally sucked ass, it was nice to know that in a time of serious crisis (which is what this fully felt like to me) he was calm, level headed, and so sweet. I thanked him and then asked him why he was so wonderful. Know what his reply was? (You'll love this.) "I made a promise, I intend to keep it."
"A promise? To who?" I asked
"Your Mother asked me to take care of you, I promised her I would, I intend to keep my promise."
"You're a good man" I told him as we entered the police station.

There was no one in there save one cop on a computer in the back. After a few moments he came to the window and the BF & I told him we wanted to file a report on the off chance that someone turns in a missing wallet. The officer asked how long it had been missing. We told him "within the hour." He asked what it looked like, and the BF and I both held up our hands and formed the now routine rectangular shape with our fingers and said "black leather, with a zipper." The officer then says "black, eh? hang on a moment." Every hair on my body stood on end, even my eyebrows were at full attention. I think my eyelashes would have spontaneously ejected had they not been spot welded into place with the industrial strength mascara I was wearing (which was, thankfully that evening, waterproof). The officer left his post for a moment, and after about 20 seconds came back with a large black wallet in his hands…. MY WALLET. My eyes rolled into the back of my head in that moment (not even kidding) and I turned around and my entire body slid down to the floor where everything went fuzzy for a few seconds, then it all became ridiculously clear and I began to cry. Tears of joy are far superior to any other.

(I held onto this thing with white knuckles the rest of the night, for real)


I pulled myself back up with the help of the BF, had no problem telling the officer what he would find, and in which order, once he opened the wallet to verify it was mine. 30 seconds later he handed it over to me and I grabbed his hands to thank him with all my heart as he informed us that apparently a woman at the bus stop we were first heading towards had found it on the ground, saw the police station next door and ran inside to drop it off… she didn't leave any contact info, which is too bad, because I have never wanted to thank another human being so badly in my life.

Once we left the police station and I told the BF that we should still go to the comedy show, that it wasn't too late (it was like 8:45pm at this point), I realized we were walking back down the road that the sanitation workers we met were working on…. they were still there… they all turned when they saw me coming and I held up the wallet in my hands with the biggest grin I could muster. It stopped them dead in their tracks, and they all showed their disbelief by dropping their tools, clapping, and emitting cries of astonishment. I told them the story of what happened, and the man that had offered me the money came running up to me to give me the biggest hug (he was totally cute btw :) ). It was like I made their night too somehow. My experiences with human kindness that evening was catching and spreading. We parted ways and the BF & I headed to the bus stop to get to the comedy show.

As we waited, and the BF took a last minute business call on his mobile, and I found myself with a few minutes to just sit down on this small stone wall and think about everything that just happened all over the course of about an hour, a homeless man from the West Indies (I know because he told me that's where he was from) came up to me and asked me if I had any spare change to help him get a bite to eat. I looked him right in the eye and said "You know what? I do." I reached into my wallet to pull out £1 and as I did .20 pence popped out and started to roll away. "Oh! I'm so sorry! I can do much better than that…"  I laughed, not caring about the .20 pence. He just smiled and said "don't worry, I'll get it" and took off after it across the sidewalk. I suddenly felt bad, it was like I was making him work for it… and that was not my intention, AT ALL. He came back to me a moment later and I gave him the £1 coin… and you know what he did? He said "thank you miss, you dropped this" and gave me the .20 pence back. I reached in my wallet and gave him another £1 coin and said "I'll trade you for it." His smile met mine and we parted ways with a handshake. The bus arrived, the BF ended his phone call, and we boarded the bus, my wallet tightly in my grip, and an agreement that massive amounts of drinks were in order upon arrival at the bar.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pie Tax

Today is Thanksgiving... in America.
Here in the UK it's..... Thursday.
I stopped celebrating Thanksgiving in the traditional way a long time ago. (traditional way =  force yourself out of bed on your day off, go to someone's house, sit around a table stuffing your face full of food that is not overly spectacular, listen to guys talk about football, feel ill from eating too much... go home and eat the rest of the pie the host asked you to take home with you.... wake up the next day wondering where your damn day off went, or spend it running around trying to get Christmas shopping done with the throngs of crazy Americans that think "Black Friday" is the best day to shop.)

Years ago I just looked at my calendar and said "no, just no." I told my family I was no longer celebrating. I was going to stay home and be "thankful I had the day off." My housemate, Colin, couldn't afford (time wise) to go be with any of his family... so he & I created our own Thanksgiving tradition.


Every year on Thanksgiving we wake up whenever the hell we want, stay in our pajamas all day, eat roast beef sandwiches, and watch cheesy action movies. Preferably Jason Statham flicks since even Colin admits to having a man crush on him... and really, how can you not?


Once friends caught wind of this amazing tradition, two things happened. 1) they were pissed off & totally jealous they didn't think of it first, & 2) they wanted in.
So... to those that were pissed off/jealous we said "neener neener neener, sucks to be you!"
And to those that wanted to join us... no problem... but they had to pay a pie tax.

That's right, a pie tax. (Cake/cupcakes/cookies are okay too since Colin technically won't eat pie... in fact he won't eat any food that has fruit in it. I think it's a textural thing for him.) Show up at our door, bring a slice or two of pie, we'll unlock it, offer you a seat on the sofa that has been warmed by the wood burning stove, maybe some slices of an epically huge roast beef sandwich, and some cheesy action movie viewing.

To everyone in the US right now, Happy Turkey Day. I really do hope your holiday is more enjoyable than mine were before Colin's & my tradition began... and I also hope that if you're nutty enough to go shopping tomorrow you obtain rockstar parking, discounts aplenty and score a seriously awesome pumpkin spice chai tea for half price. ♥

To everyone else... uh... happy Thursday? :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Leave A Message And I'll Call You Back

Earlier last week I opened a bank account here in London, but because of weekends, I still won't have my bank card, or use of the account till the 30th at the earliest. 14+ days I will have waited just so I can open a mobile phone account and get a phone. I must say, for a huge country that is traveled to from all over the world and caters to thousands of foreigners on a daily basis… England appears to be a bit slow on the technology uptake. Apparently I can not just go get a cell phone w/out proof of residency and a credit card issued by a British bank. Yes, I can get a "pay as you go" phone… but what is the point in that if what I mainly need the phone for is internet access……. which is another thing that is evidently impossible to get quickly. (I also need/want the phone plan that gives me good international rates… I've found that with "O2"… now I just need the phone)

Hell, I called the cable company back home and had WiFi w/in the hour. All I had to do was drive over to one of their locations and pick up the little box that connects to the cable box, plug it in, and connect it myself. (Not rocket science) Easy peasy. Here it takes a minimum of 1 month just to get the phone company to come pay a visit and see if your lines are usable if you don't currently have a land line. (No idea how the cable thing works, but according to the few I've talked to, it is equally as frustrating) These are a few more of the things that confound as far as differences between here and home go.

I don't mean to come across as bashing England/London- I love it here, but some of the "differences" totally boggle my mind.

Though…my real thought today is this: Does anyone have a land line anymore? Anywhere? (Other than businesses) I think I might go old school when I get back to the states and only give my cell phone # out to like 10 people. (I've already got the list, trust me.) I will then be using my awesome phone that a family friend gave me a few years ago. It's an actual working phone from the early 1900's that currently sits in my living room as a cherished bit of decoration. Everyone else can bust out their big huge phone books and look my ass up. Imagine that? No more being interrupted at inopportune moments while out of the house; no more fumbling in my purse to try to turn a ringer off; no more apologetic smiles when my ex calls me and I'm in a public place. (I set his ring-tone as this (NSFW btw) so that I could laugh when he called and then not answer it because I was enjoying the sentiment so much) No more walking, arm extended, searching for a bar of service just to return a phone call to someone that really didn't need to reach me for anything other to chat. ('Cause the middle of a work day is always just perfect for that eh?) I can finally use my old answering machine again. Arrive home and see the red flashing button, hit "play" and listen to messages as I go about my business. Just think, there'd be no more moments of wondering why all of our years of education have flown out the window thanks to text messages. I fully understand when someone is in a hurry, or trying to get an entire text message to fit in one text ('cause not everyone has "unlimited texts" as part of their service plan) and types "2moro" (tomorrow) or "U" (you) or even the ones I hate "R U" (are you), "U R" (you are), and "ur" (your/you're)… but people have GOT to know how stupid it looks. There is nothing smart about it. Texting a message like "R U gon 2B @ ur plc 2nite?" ("are you going to be at your place tonight?") just makes you look like a semi illiterate, poorly educated, imbecile. Sorry, but it's true.

I know I get made fun of for using things like semicolons in text messages, but my Mother was an English teacher. You know how they say Mothers have eyes on the backs of their heads? Well they say the same about teachers (who ever "they" are). I got a double whammy.  Unless I am purposely/ironically writing poorly, I am convinced she KNOWS. She's like an omniscient General of the grammar police. I get teased for being a "grammar nazi" by friends ("head of the gestypo" I tell them when they say it), but outside of human error, common typos (which I am TOTALLY guilty of on a regular basis), and modern day slang/accepted vernacular, I really do cringe at the inability of so many people to differentiate between words like you're, your, there, they're, their et al. Again, I get it when it's an error due to typing too quickly, or the dreaded "predictive text" that so many use on their phones… which I am convinced makes people dumber…. but there is no reason, AT ALL to not at least learn the differences! (I personally HATE that some of the programs on my computer instantly change words I type into something I didn't intend to type AT ALL, or add unnecessary apostrophes. My two favorites are when I type my friend Leandra's name, or her sister Seniel's name… and get "Leonard" & "senile.")

The other one that get's me?….. "alot/allot" … IT'S TWO WORDS PEOPLE…2… TWO WORDS!!!  A LOT. Think about what you are saying. Picture a large parking lot full of something, maybe cupcakes? Now you would say it is "a lot of cupcakes"… get it?You're welcome.

Okay I'm done complaining. I think I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today, and since the BF's bed is currently up against a wall, this means I either woke up and slammed into the wall, or fell out of bed. I'll let you decide which is worse…… then I'll tell you…. I did both. :/ (for real.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

An American Girlfriend In London Pt 1

Moving to London from my home America for the winter (to be with the BF), aside from the actual mileage of about 3000 miles, isn't really that big a leap….or at least I didn't think it would be. The language is English, so the fear of not knowing what anyone was saying to me wasn't there. I grew up around British, Scottish, and Irish friends & family, so understanding various accents/dialects wasn't going to be an issue for me…. but I will still, probably forever, crack up at the handful of words out there that are pronounced with obvious differences depending on region/country - "oregano," "aluminum," & "Tunisia" are three that stand out as favorites on that list. There is also inflection. I never noticed the difference till I was living in Scotland a few years back and a friend of mine tried to use that line that has become synonymous with the character "Joey" on "Friends": "How you doin'?"  Even as I type that I can hear it being said… but my Scottish friends just COULD NOT get the inflection right. No matter how many times I repeated it for them it would come out "how you doin' ?"  I know it's kinda hard to get that one across when writing it, as opposed to saying it out loud, but you understand what I'm saying', right? It's just funny. Not a big deal, but still funny.

 

I know I've mentioned before that when I lived in Scotland I would, upon meeting someone new, either lie & say I was Canadian, or lead off the "nice to meet you" handshake with "I didn't vote for him" (George W. Bush was President back then), but aside from being embarrassed by having a President (at the time) who was the laughing stock of the planet (ok, the whole f'n solar system), I was sad that so many people in Europe seemed to hate Americans, and were NOT (ever) silent about the fact. In my presence there were a lot of "well, not you" and "you're the exception, of course" (of course…) sentiments. I remember sitting in the local pub up in the highlands asking my friends there why they had so many preconceived notions about Americans, and they all, with out a moment to think about it, said "television." They based their ideas on what Americans are like by watching American TV on cable. (WTF?!) My reply to that? "Well, good thing we don't do that in America or we'd all think you were "Groundskeeper Willy!" Of course as I said it, and looked around the pub in that wee "blink & you'll miss it" village in the heart of the Cairngorm mountains, I realized that just about everyone in there was indeed practically identical to "Groundskeeper Willy." Irony?

Now I'm in London, not Scotland (though I am aching to go back and visit some friends there soon), and I am noticing the strangest differences. Things I didn't foresee, or even consider would be as head scratching as they are. I believe now, after the BF suggested the point, that perhaps because the wee village where I lived in Scotland was so close to Aviemore, a HUGE tourist town because all the skiers go there for their goods, that a lot of familiar things I found at the local Tesco & nearby shops were due to the fact that they catered to tourists and foreigners. In the area of London I am living in this winter (Hackney) I am noticing little things like the other day when the BF & I  went to the grocery store to get ingredients, so I could bake a cake I had brought a recipe for, not only was I totally unable to find a regular ol' box of Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker "yellow cake" mix, but they didn't even have Jello® pudding! THEN when I finally agreed to try/use some things the BF suggested, I couldn't for the life of me understand the measurements. I grew up using cups, teaspoons, tablespoons, etc… not metric. Don't even get me started on trying to figure out the oven at the BF's place… he scrubbed it so clean a while back that he scrubbed off the markings and everything was stuck in Celsius since they didn't know which buttons to push to get Fahrenheit back (the only thing I know in Celsius is that water freezes at 0˚ and boils at 100˚ as opposed to Fahrenheit where it freezes at 32˚ and boils at 212˚). We couldn't figure out how to set the oven for 350˚F, and since we don't have internet at the house, and I couldn't turn on my American cell phone without incurring MASSIVE phone charges to google the answer (last time I was here I made the mistake of using my phone a few times and incurred a bill of over $1200!! -holy shit!)… we had to wait for the BF's friend (Kenny) to arrive for dinner (I made a tomato & beef stew) and look it up on his phone. (It was 180˚C btw). I should add here that the cake was PHENOMENAL! For real, it was freaking' delicious. Even better than the first time I made it over a year ago… and I do not like chocolate AT ALL, but this cake was slammin'!
I'm gonna give you the recipe right now so you can see for yourself, mind you it'll be the "American version" :) :

Baileys Irish Cream Cake

     1 box of yellow/vanilla cake mix
       4 oz instant chocolate pudding (basically a box of chocolate Jello® instant pudding)
     3/4 cup  vegetable oil
     1/8 cup  water
     1/4 cup  Vodka (an "airplane bottle" size will work)
     3/8 cup  Bailey’s Irish Cream (totally used more than that.. just eyeballed it… with "I ♥ Baileys eyes" )
       4    Eggs
Combine cake mix, pudding mix, oil, water, vodka, Baileys and eggs in bowl.  Beat until smooth.  Pour into greased and floured 10″ Bundt pan. Bake at 350˚ for 40-50 minutes or until done.  Remove from pan and cool completely.
Mix a glaze of Bailey’s and powdered sugar to a thick consistency and drizzle over cake…. then try not to devour the entire thing in one sitting…. trust me, it's damn near impossible. Seriously.
(if you make this- & you should since it's ridiculously easy, I really do not only want your feed back, but want to hear about how much your friends/family loved it… and, uh.. I'd like a slice)

Now… back to the random "this is odd" ramblings…(this may very well become a series of blog posts since I am stumbling upon new things every day)… 


I knew that where I lived in Kincraig (that's the wee village in Scotland where I was living) was very "out of the way" and therefor didn't expect a lot of amenities I may have been used to back home. The tiny fridges were the first thing to boggle my mind. Everyone had refrigerators that were the size that most of us in America would have in our dorm rooms in college. Of course I soon came to realize that because Europe doesn't have the craptastic food that permeates every aisle of the US's local grocery stores, oozing with chemicals & pesticides, that food not only will spoil quickly if not used/eaten in a timely fashion… but a lot of it doesn't need to be refrigerated. Plus houses are decidedly colder and when you "accidentally" leave the milk out on the counter in the kitchen… the fear of it being all spoiled and lumpy isn't really there like it is in America. I love that the food in Europe is, on average, pretty much chemical free. It's awesome to be honest… but it's still like a weird edible Jenga® game when more than one person goes grocery shopping on the same day you do and needs to put stuff in the fridge too. 


Another one of the "ok, that's different" things is laundry. Back home I can run a fairly large wash load and it will be ready for the dryer in about 30 minutes whereas I have used tiny machines in the UK that take just over an hour. Of course the big ones at the local launderette are faster, but man they cost a lot! I took some wash there the other day and it cost me £4 just to do a load in one of the big washers. (That's like upwards of $6.50!!… don't even get me started on the dryer that took £1 for every 15 minutes!) .. at the BF's there is no dryer, just a clothes line out back. This is fine by me, 'cause I happen to love the way clothes look and feel after drying in the sunshine. So what's the problem? I don't think there has been a full 24 hours of no rain since I arrived. There are currently a lot of wall heaters in the house covered in various articles of everyone's clothing right now. Maybe we should try to be more creative about where we put our clothes? You know, the living room could be "the sock room", the bedrooms can be for underwear, the kitchen can be for towels… not the bathroom… that room is not heated (holy crap is it cold in there!… and, as you all might remember, a perfect habitat for growing mushrooms. Yes, that's what I'll do. It can be like our own poorly merchandised charity shop… where all the items are in some state of dampness.

I really just think the one thing that is going to make me crazy is the inability to hop on line whenever I want. I miss that the most.
Truth is I don't miss anything from back home other than some friends/family… and WiFi. I can not even begin to tell you how many times in a day I have a thought that is followed by "oh, I should google that" and then realize I need to write a note to myself to remind me to do that when I get to the cafe here where I use the internet. Apparently it takes WEEKS to get the internet installed in private residences here, and now we are all just waiting for the BF's newest housemate to order it and get it installed. ('Cause he said he would…) I have a feeling it's not going to happen while I'm here, so if it doesn't… at least now I will have a minimum of one thing (other than friends/family) to look forward to upon returning to my home in the states. The only other non-living thing at the moment that I miss is my job. How weird is that? I actually LOVE my job, but it doesn't start up again till around Memorial Day Weekend (end of May) and lasts till just after Labor Day. I really should try to find something else to help supplement my income, but right now I'm sorta coasting through and trying to figure out where/what I want to be/do with my life. This is probably why I'm so keen on asking kids what they want to be when they grow up, I'm looking for suggestions.

Got any?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tag, You're It

Right, so I've apparently been "tagged" in a blog by Starlight and must answer these questions to the best of my ability. Then I'm supposed to tag others and ask them to do the same... So... because chain mail and crap like that tend to bring out my inner heebie-jeebies...here it goes:


1. Why did you create the blog?
I'm guessing just about everyone answering this via blog would say they love to write, otherwise blogging would be a total pain in the ass, yeah? I think I created my blog not so much because I had something to say that I felt was important, but I had things to say that I usually wanted some sort of feedback on. Whether it was editorial comments, or just  "I know what you mean/me too" type comments…I wanted to put something "out there."  I keep telling my friends, the ones that can never seem to be bothered to read my blog (& that is seriously okay btw, 'cause it just means I can talk mad smack about 'um now ;p) that if I didn't want what I was writing to be read, I'd be writing in a journal/diary that I keep hidden in… oh! I'm not telling you where I keep it hidden! Nice try though…


2. What kind of blogs do you follow?
I love anything that will make me laugh most of all, so if I come across a blogger with a great sense of humor and the ability to translate that humor via the written word I will become an instant fan. Same goes for eloquence; if someone is able to articulate thoughts in a way that I find to be beautiful, then I am all about it.


3. Favourite makeup brand?

(this would be the question that guarantees no male bloggers will be tagged, eh?)
I wish I could be all "oh, I only wear chapstick", but the truth is, I am a total makeup junkie. Seriously, I walk into a Sephora and pretty much drool. That said, I am quite adept at wearing 23 different products and still managing to look like I'm not wearing make up, but the brand that I have loved, and always had the best luck with is Benefit.


 

4. Favourite clothing brand? I don't know that I have a favorite brand, but I can tell you that 99.9% of everything in Anthropologie is something I love... and that, oddly enough, whenever I find a dress I like, and it looks good, it is almost always by Tracy Reese.



5. Your indispensable makeup product?

My basic "everyday makeup" consists of:


 (you can click on that to make it bigger you know)

6. Your favourite colour?
Any color that makes me think of the ocean/seaside is my favorite, alas all those blue-y green colors look HORRIBLE on me and make me look like I am on the verge of projectile vomiting. So, my favorite color to wear?  
ORANGE, no question.




 
7. Your perfume?
for YEARS I wore Fresh's "Cannabis Santal" , but earlier this year decided to stop…….. and almost every day since I have regretted giving away my last full bottle of it. I can't seem to find a scent I like as much as I loved that one. Though the last time I loved a fragrance … THEY DISCONTINUED IT! BASTARDS!!! (I don't even care that it was a totally cheap perfume, that stuff smelled awesome on me… any chance any of you have some full bottles of "Liquid" by Hard Candy you want to send my way?)

8. Your favourite film?

of all time? any genre?… damn, that's a tough one…….. I'll have to go with a tie between "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead" & "The Big Chill." I never get sick of watching either of those... EVER.


9. What country would you like to visit and why?

You know where I'd really like to go? Oz. I'm not talking Australia… I mean OZ… like Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, singing munchkins, & flying apes, we're off to see the freakin' wizard,  Oz. For real, how awesome would that be?! Really I just want to score a kick ass pair of ruby slippers in my size. (11)

10. Write the last question and answer it yourself: What were you in your previous life?
I'm just gonna leave Starlight's question… 'cause I have a theory on this…….. after putting up with all the craptasticness I have had to deal with, I have come to the decisive conclusion that I am paying my dues in this life for being a professional puppy kicker in the last one. Basically I'm fucked, but my NEXT life is gonna rule so hard core it's frightening.

Ok... this is where I am supposed to "tag" another blogger, eh? I'm thinkin' this is the hard part. See, my first instinct is to tag Cake Betch over at The Hot Mess Chronicles, but I know she has been bogged down with school related work lately (see? I read everyone's blogs, I pay attention!), then there's also my cousin Harper, & her blog "Bleak to Chic" (which everyone should totally check out 'cause it's awesome and she is doing AMAZING things with her new place), alas, she seems to be mighty busy these days as well. There's also Crazy Ramblings Of A Tired Mom who is just plain hysterical in her tales of day to day occurrences.... yet I think she's bogged down too.
But you know what? FUCK IT!  I'm taggin' all three of you, you know why? I'm thousands of miles from home, and the only internet access I have is at the cafe 3 blocks away where I sit out back in the freezing cold London winter, alternating between typing and grasping on to my giant cup of tea for dear life to obtain warmth... so... TAG! You're it! (ok, honestly, I won't be gutted if you don't do it, but if you do, let me know :) )

Tagged Bloggers:
Cake Betch
Harper
Crazy Ramblings Of A Tired Mom

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Did I Ever Tell You About That One Time ...

Did I ever tell you about that day in September this year when the BF (aka "My Jerk♥") & I were wandering along the Thames after visiting Shakespeare's Globe, and we came across a cute lil' old dude fishing?

Yeah, he was fishing right there in the Thames. - BTW, for the few of you that are actually reading this, and possibly have no idea... The River Thames is pronounced "Tems" not "Theyms."- Anyway... The BF stops to talk to the guy who happened to be cockney as well (you knew the BF was cockney, right? Well, he is.) and asks the guy if he can take his picture. See, "My Jerk♥" writes a blog about hunting/fishing etc... and a snippet about this guy would be hysterical.
Know what the old guy says? (Fans of "Old Greg" are gonna love this... ) He says "Do you love me?"
I, of course giggle my ass off, and the BF misunderstands him and doesn't bother with a picture.... till we are all about to part ways and I say "Baby, weren't you gonna snap a picture?" and the BF says "I didn't think he wanted his picture taken." To which I reply "No, he just wanted to know if you loved him. "

Old dude is smiling and laughing and tells my BF to take his picture... then says "one wit yer Misses, yeah?" and reaches for me. I happened to think the old dude was a sweetheart and totally hysterical, so I went straight into his arms.....


Then old dude says "giff us a kiss, yeah?" and I look at the BF, and he smiles waiting to see what I'd do... and I'm pretty sure he had absolutely no idea just how far I will take a joke if it will make for a good story, even long after the fact............ So the BF holds up the camera, I look at the old dude and say "you want a kiss eh?", old dude smiles at me, puckers up (I'm sure both he and the BF thought I was goin' for the guy's cheek)... but you know what I did? I totally made out with the old cockney dude. :)



Then I looked at the BF and said "bet ya didn't see that comin' now did ya?"  He laughs and the old cockney dude, says with a grin "I didn't! But I be lookin' fer it the next time, love!"

(How much money do you wanna bet the BF will post something about this making it look like I was wandering around London playin' tonsil hockey with random old men? )

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I'm Not Making Risotto With These

So... I'm in London now. I arrived last Wednesday in the wee small hours of the morning, and took the Heathrow Express to Paddington to met up with "My Jerk♥" ('cause meeting up at Heathrow is a headache.) With the exception of some jobs he needed to finish up, we've managed to spend quite a lot of time together, and it has been, in a word, FANTASTIC. I only wish there was internet at the house. I feel I have been seriously slacking in the reading/writing blogs dept. There are quite a few out there that I look forward to reading (if you follow my blog, there is a 99.9% chance I am indeed talking about loving your blog) and have to venture down the road to one of the local cafes to catch up. Not that bad really, but it's just not as nice as being able to curl up under the duvet and surf away.

Though, so far, my favorite thing (outside of "My Jerk♥") has been what he has growing in his bathroom along the base of the shower. He did not plant them, nor did his housemates... but there are mushrooms growing there. I'm not even kidding. Mind you, they are not of the "ha! these are F'n awesome!" variety... they are basically proof that the homeowner needs to do something about the dampness problem in the bathroom.

Everyone knows they should be yanked up, and the area bleached... but it's just so damn gross, yet funny, that no one can bear to do it.

Apparently I'm not your typical "eweee! that's so gross!" female since I find it all totally hysterical.

See for yourself......

Impressively disgusting ain't it? :)

I would like to add here, that for a house with three other men living in it, and no females, it really is remarkably clean, specifically the bathroom.... minus the mushrooms.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Poop

I feel like I should post something in the realm of three different kinds of awesome.....

It was the birthday party of my best friend's (Wendy Mae) son (Leif) tonight. He had sent me a text message earlier in the week asking if I'd make his cake, then Wendy Mae requested that it be a "kitty litter cake" (I've made one of those before... waaaay easy.) ... So here are some pictures:


I loved that Leif ate his piece with the scoop... but I love even more that he was half way through it all when he innocently looked up at me and asked if the scoop and litter box were "used."
My reply?
"Oh, yeah, but I totally ran a damp paper towel over most of it, no worries."

You know, the ability to gross out a room full of 12, 13 & 14 yr. old boys is a true talent. I'm quite proud of myself.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

And Things That Go Bump In The Night

After reading a fantastic blog post by Cake Betch on her blog The Hot Mess Chronicles, I was inspired to write up a few of my own personal experiences with ghosts/unexplained phenomenon. (Please be sure to check out her blog, she's absolutely hysterical, and I'm more than a little gutted she's not my next door neighbor.)
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On a random Sunday, back when my parents were still together, my Father asked my Mother if she'd like to go for an afternoon drive. Oddly enough, she said yes.  Things like that were really not my Mother's cup-o-tea. They hopped in the car and headed out...eventually deciding on (and ending up in) Englewood, NJ where my Mother grew up. (They started in southern CT.)

Their story from that day goes something like this... as they drove down the roads my Mother grew up wandering along they came upon a massive brick wall surrounding a house. The house had always been there but the "mini Great Wall of China", as my Mother described it, had not. They drove on, stopping in front of what used to be my Great Grandmother's house.

My Mother was an only child and spent just about every Sunday of her childhood with her Grandmother. I only knew the woman as a baby/toddler. She died before I could know & appreciate her awesomeness. My Mother, however, knew her quite well and felt compelled to get out of the car and wander around the grounds.

Half way around the house my parents decided they should knock on the door and introduce themselves so that the current owners wouldn't think two creepy people were casing the joint.
The owners were not only home, but after hearing my Mother explain why they were wandering around the yard, welcomed my Mother & Father into the house and asked them if they'd like to tour the inside of the house as well.

In they went.

My Mother said the house was beautiful, and the current owners had kept so many of the original details, and period furnishings that it was almost exactly like how her Grandmother would have had it.

After a brief tour and light conversation where my Mother asked about that giant wall down the road...she got this:
"Oh, that's Mr. Murphy's place" they said.
"Mr. Murphy?"
"Eddie Murphy, the comedian."
"ohhh." (I know my Mother was slightly pleased by this because when she was growing up there were not that many black families in the area. It was nice to see that some things DO change.)

The homeowners then offered my parents something to drink.... and as they all sat around in the livingroom one of the homeowners asks my Mother flat out "so, tell me, was the house haunted when your Grandmother lived here too?"

Poor Mom almost spit out her drink. "Haunted?! No! What are you talking about?!"

The homeowners then went on to tell her that they knew there was a ghost in the house, but weren't scared of it, as much as just aware of it. They told her there were some unexplainable odd noises that could be heard at certain times of the day.

My Mother let out a laugh and said "Well, unless it's a heavy *step-step-clunk  step-step-clunk* I couldn't even begin to help you. My Father (who also knew my Great Grandmother) laughed at my Mother's reference... and then they noticed the homeowners and their family had gone eerily silent... till one of them half whispered... "THAT is the sound, how did you know that?!"

She informed them that my Great Grandmother had issues with her legs, and it caused her to walk with a heavy gait, and a cane. Hence the "step-step-clunk"... and realizing she had just totally freaked out the homeowners she quickly said "oh, but you have nothing to worry about! Worst that could happen is you'll wake up to a healthy breakfast." They all smiled at that, but I'm pretty sure they were totally freaked out, I know I would be. Grandma/Great Grandma or not.... that's just eerie.

I'd like to say I don't know how I'd feel about having a ghost in my house... but... I think I do.
See, about 9 years ago one of my best friends (I'm just gonna call him "T" since that's what his name started with)  died. It wasn't sudden. He had been sick for quite a while, and because T and I were both of the "sick sense of humor" mindset we'd crack jokes about all the things he was going to do when he died.

 I have the email he sent to me mere hours before he passed and in it he says sweet and wonderful things, and he also reminds me of all the jokes we made and how he intended to follow through. The day he died I had woken up to check my email. I had fallen asleep just moments after we spoke on the phone the night before, and I knew he was going to be sending me something... 'cause he told me to check my email before work.

The letter began with "By the time you read this, I'll be gone..." ..... and the rest of the letter was filled with things that, if you don't mind, I'd like to keep to myself. However, he did remind me of our jokes and all the things he said he would do.

Later that evening, after making it through work, only crying once, and trying to not be upset with myself for feeling a sense of relief that his pain was finally over, I began to clean my house. I had a friend from work stopping by because we had it in our heads that we would make the Christmas gifts for the staff Christmas party/dinner that year, and my house was a mess.

After cleaning the main part of the house, I went to my bedroom and started cleaning up in there as well. Just as I had finished making my bed I heard a knock at the door. I quickly put the plethora of pillows back at the top of the bed, in the order that I always (read: for years) have kept them, and as I went to shut off the light and close the bedroom door I felt my favorite fuzzy green sweater hanging on the inside door knob, and took note that my pillows were in order. (I know, it's kinda like an OCD things with me... I do love a lot of pillows... and I like them in a certain way.)

My house was oddly warm that evening (I'm not complaining! My house is drafty as @#$%) and my friend Molly (the co-worker at the time who was coming over to make the retarded gifts with me) and I had a great time making the ugliest little candle holders you ever did see. I almost wish I had pictures so you could see for yourself... but I'm kinda happy I don't have photographic evidence of those monstrosities. Just imagine cheap little glass votive holders that were attacked with a bedazzler and hot glue. (Not. Even. Kidding. They were U.G.L.Y!!)

Eventually Molly left, and the ugly votive holders were left to dry (and fall apart by morning I should add.). I took note of the time and thought to myself "Oh! "The Little Rascals" are on!" and went to go switch on the TV. I had been, for quite a few months at that point, a big fan of watching the late night re-runs of "The Little Rascals"



I turned on the TV, but suddenly felt really cold, and remembering that my fuzzy green sweater was hanging on the inside of my bedroom door, I went to go grab it. I popped the door open, reached around for, but didn't feel it there. Thinking it must have fallen I turned on the light and looked to the ground. No sweater. Where was it? I'll tell you where... 6' away, on the floor, laid out in a perfect "T" shape. I just sort of stood there for a moment thinking "WTF," but it wasn't till I looked over at my bed that I became more than a little freaked out.

Sitting atop the pillows, specifically the pillow I sleep on each night (yes, I push all the others aside before bed) was one of my purses. A specific purse that had been the topic of multiple conversations between T and I because he was ridiculously impressed by how much I got it for. (A brand new leather Coach bag for $50) Mind you, my purses (including that one) were, at that time, kept on hooks along the OPPOSITE wall that the head of my bed was against.  Even if it fell off the wall and bounced (neither of which it could or would do)... it would only go about 2' from the wall the purses hung on.

I'm not sure what made me pick up my sweater, turn off the light, and go back to the livingroom... but I did. I sat there watching "The Little Rascals", shivering. The house was still really cold. Then as quickly as the cold had enveloped my house, it was gone. I was warm again. I remember actually pushing up the sleeves of the fuzzy green sweater because I was almost too warm.

See, heat does something to me (and I know I am not alone in this)... it knocks me out. I get super sleepy on the nights I have a fire going in the wood burning stove, but on that particular night- I had yet to own one, so I don't know why I was so warm. Maybe I wasn't, maybe it was just such a drastic difference from the chill that had been in the air that my body over reacted? Either way, I decided to go to bed.

I had the next day off from work, so I didn't bother to set my alarm for any specific hour... I just went to bed.

A few hours later... specifically at 4:23am.... my alarm went off. Mind you I did not set my alarm, nor would I EVER set it for an hour as obscure as that... and to make it weirder: it was the alarm that sounds like seagulls being castrated, not the radio- which is the ONLY setting I had ever used since I bought the alarm clock in the first place.

I was too tired at that point to give it all much though, but upon waking the next day, and remembering what I had woken up to the morning before, I went to my computer and pulled up T's email.

At the end of the letter he had written out the various ways he would let me know he was "there." One of them referenced the Coach purse...there was a joke about my ugly fuzzy green sweater that I refused to throw away.... and as shivers, not from cold air as much as a startling realization, ran up and down my spine, I noticed another was him joking about making my alarm go off on my day off..... at 4:23am.