Saturday, October 25, 2008

I Am The Warrior

As I've been feeling a bit defeated by life in general lately, I was looking for a pick-me-up and stumbled across this blast from the musical past. Thanks to the good old 80's (and my dear friend, Cam-- who IS the ACTUAL Warrior in this video), I'm feeling a little more energized to continue my battle against the world.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Living it up in the UK

"How are you adjusting to London?" she asked.

"Well, first of all, I live in Manchester-- and not even in Manchester but north of an actual city... because there's more to the UK than just London... which is in the southeast of the country... and, it's really just the same as moving anywhere... new people, new shops, new weather... oh. That is, if you've ever moved..."

That's the gist of most of the conversations that I have with folks-- friends and work people alike... in my head. Of course I'm not brave enough to say those things out loud. BUT, it is the frequent refrain inside this sometimes too active brain of mine. To most Americans (and some Londoners), there is no other city in England except London; the same, I suppose, as for some Europeans who only know NYC, LA and Chicago (based on the number of television shows-- which are 90% American, that are set there). And although I've tired of correcting the fact that I don't live in London... in fact, I live a good four hours away by car (two by train), I do believe that it's the same as moving anywhere... if you're used to moving, it's about settling in, getting to know your 'hood and developing your routine.

I'm used to living in small spaces... only not with another person; and while it's working out great, it's also because 90% of my belongings are not actually here yet... I shudder to think of what this place will look like when it all arrives... because, contrary to my previous post about buying a house, it looks like we're going to be stuck in our present surroundings for a few months.

That's because banks don't like expats on term limits (translation: work permits)... despite the 20% down payment, good income and the fact that I'm virtually the only one buying. Well, they're loss. The upside is that Mark owns the existing house... the mortgage is super cheap... and, despite the shady location and the fact that we can't park our car on the same street as the house b/c we're not sure if it will still be there in the morning... the reality is that my apartment in Chicago and NYC were probably smaller than this house (maybe...).

So, now it's on to the dilemma that every newly co-inhabiting couple faces... making all the stuff fit. Given I can't buy and in this market, Mark can't sell, we've gone to plan X and will likely be staying in this existing house, saving for the wedding and crossing our fingers that friends and family don't plan to visit because this place leaves MUCH to be desired. Making it all fit is the the only option we have, it seems... and I'd love visitors, so if you don't mind a crowded little terrace flat with no central heating (IT IS COLD), colorful neighbors (translation: drunk, loud, bottle-breaking on the street...), in the middle of nowhere, please do come for a visit... at least it will be an experience!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Still figuring it all out

  • TV: The same shows are on multiple channels, 30 minutes apart... everyday; they repeat the repeats over and over and over again. So what if this country doesn't have Tivo... apparently we don't need it... even though we don't want it. (BTW-- Friends and Scrubs are on 24 hours a day. If there were more hours in a day, I'm sure this country would find a way to put them on TV).
  • Buying a house: so, apparently no one wants my money. I'm a bad risk despite my much higher than average income and 20% down payment. Because the government limits my work permit terms, banks don't want to give me a mortgage. What is UP with that?!
  • Gas (Petrol / Fuel): It's EXPENSIVE. Litres, gallons, whatever way you slice it; $140 to fill up a gas tank is NUTS. And we don't even have an SUV-- we have a fuel-economy car. argh...
  • Friends: How do I make them when I work at home and don't go to school? Thankfully I have free calls to the US. But I miss my girlfriends...
  • Beverages: Lemonade is 7-up (Beware ordering it as a mixer); lager= light beer; bitters=ales; guiness=stout/all dark beer. "fresh orange"= oj (regardless of being fresh squeezed); most barristas don't know what a cosmo is-- or grey goose, kahlua or most mixed drinks. drinking a "shandy" (beer and lemonade-- err, 7-up) is not considered drinking, and that's what the "DD" drinks.
  • Driving: I'm getting better at the right-hand orientation (I no longer have a frightened Mark saying, "A little to the right, darling"), but the roundabouts have me completely befuddled. All of my good left-hand orientation karma goes out the window. So far I'm only good on motorways (highways)... country roads and regular streets (which inevitably lead to roundabouts) are a little, errr... trickier.
  • Pounds vs. Dollars: can't help it. In my head, everything here is exhorbitantly expensive. A fish filet meal at McDonald's $14 (I folded... couldn't help it... I needed some American french fries, which is sad b/c i don't even eat them in America)?!? WTF?!?
  • America: This is what I find myself calling it, even though it's the U.S. (and other Americans-- e.g. Canadians, Mexicans, Brazilians and other S. Americans are technically Americans as well, and some get a little miffed that the U.S. has claimed both continents).
  • Madonna: Remember you people-- I start sounding like Madonna, you start telling me I'm an idiot.
That's all folks... TTFN.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Wigglesworth and Giggleswick

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon drive (last week), MRN and I happened across these two towns. YES! TOWNS! And did I get a hearty giggle out of those names-- "Fantastic!" I remarked. "It's like we're in a Harry Potter book." They were sweet little villages-- and I must say, this is one of the things that I'm enjoying most about England-- wayfaring around the countryside and happening upon places lost in time like Wigglesworth and Giggleswick. Heehee.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Home Sweet Home

It was a week of firsts... and a big dose of being a grown up. I suppose it's about time! I'll start with the most exciting, which is buying a house! Or, at least, having my offer on a house accepted. As I've been homeless since February this is my most favorite of the news... not only because I can finally get my things out of storage and shipped across the ocean, but I get to have a home again. Yippeee! It's just a little house, but hopefully soon all mine! Now into all the legal fun of mortgages and closing... my goal was to be in by my birthday... likely not possible, but one can dream! Maybe Thanksgiving (given they don't celebrate here, not much of a milestone, but I'm determined to make it a tradition-- bringing a little quintessential Americana to the Brits. Hey, why not?). The house is in the town of Winsford in the county of Cheshire. It's about an hour south of Manchester and two hours north of London; so it will make my sometimes commute much better (than the current 3.5 hours, all in). So, cross your fingers that it all goes well!


Living Room

Dining Room

Guest Room