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.


  1. LoL! I love reading your blog posts (though I would be glad if you could post it more often :/), because it's so funny. I'm not mean but it's funny reading about your UK experience.

  2. We are really crap when it comes to dealing with the snow, I think that is why we never win anything at the winter olympics, apart from tea tray sliding, as whilst the Austrians etc are flying along we are too busy thinking of reasons why we didn't make it in and throwing down grit salt.

  3. trust me, I laugh at all this myself, on a regular basis. :)

  4. Miss America,

    Had to figure out a name for you. Anyway, I keep tellin' your BF there that he really, and I mean really needs to git on over here. As you may or may not know, we have a couple of minor adventures worked out, (Hand to hand with alligators, that sort of thing...) and I think he would fit right in with us. You know, he could be that funny sounding guy, yeah you know the English one.

    Well, I'm sure with your American wit and can-do-spirit, you'll get along famously there!

    Best Regards,
    Albert A Rasch
    The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles: Meanwhile, South of the Border...

  5. Albert- the BF has many kind things to say about you (for real)as well, and I thank you for the vote of confidence in regards to me doing well over here across the pond... but I gotta be honest, some of the English idiosyncrasies are slowing gnawing away at my nerves. Will keep on though, I have fight left in me yet :)

    (& thank you for the link to your blog! I couldn't figure out which one to follow, now I know!)