Thursday, December 22, 2005

Observations of a childless blogger

I am really enjoying my time here at home. As evidenced in my previous entry, I've been seeing every friend I have in the Twin Cities, and tomorrow I head to the northern suburbs to spend the holidays with my family. Exited to see them, I must confess.

I'm in a different coffee shop today. One of my favourite things about the US is that it is filthy with neighbourhood coffee shops and cafes that have free wireless internet. This particular one is in an area full of starter homes (1920's bungalows) that people in my relative generation have snatched up in an affordable housing frenzy. It's kind of near the Mississippi River, and it's full of cute little shops and restaurants that appeal to the average thirty-something with moderate disposable income and upwardly mobile tastes. This particular coffee shop seems to be the official meeting place for several Mommy/Daddy/Me groups, where the toddlers race cars and run around and build things with blocks and the parents try to have intelligent conversation whilst keeping one eye on the kids to ensure no one puts something metal in an outlet or bonks their head on the hard concrete floor.

Eavesdropping is one of my hobbies, and this is a great place to do this. Lots of people here don't know each other well, but they're trying to be nice to the parent/uncle/grandparent of the toddler their toddler is playing with. My conclusion: these poor people need to get out more.

I've fixated on one guy who has one volume of his voice (super-loud), and he has lots of lame opinions to express. (To be fair, many of the other grownups have stopped talking, since he's sucking all the air out of the place.) He looks like an extra in Yentl, if you cut the earlocks, replaced the yamulke with a newsboy cap, and the wool suit with wide-wale corduroys and a sweater vest. He has a donkey laugh, bless him, and he obviously has had some trouble fitting in in his life. When I first sat down, he was on about how British people are much more interesting than Americans. I came late, so not sure how he got on this topic, but it's all I can do not to jump in and give him my two cents. (They're not more interesting, they're just different. We're fat...they've got bad teeth. We read People, they read Heat. We say cookies, they say biscuits. Same story different day. And we both talk about the weather too much.) He's one of those typical guys who's decided that Europeans are better just because they're not from here. I'm here to tell you that's just not so. They're just like us, with different food and smaller cars. I'm sick of people who've never lived in Europe telling me how much better it is. Personally, I'm currently reveling in every dependable toilet flush and non-scalding shower, because I've not seen either of these in six months.

I'm naming this guy Lenny. Lenny is now reading Thomas the Tank Engine. It's a story about wanting to travel and see the world. He's using voices (that all sound like Droopy Dog.) He's making his child do the alphabet dance. The kids are named Arlo and Miles. Arlo seems to have a little crush on me, as he keeps coming over and giving me a big shy-boy smile. I hope Arlo grows up with more nuance than his dad.

Lenny is now talking about tea. Please stop talking about tea, Lenny. The Brits drink tea, but that doesn't make it holy. It is just an alternative to coffee.

OOOH! Now it's all about Boxing Day. Hmmmm...what next? Will we talk of bumbershoots? Will Arlo say zed instead of zee in his alphabet dance? Perhaps he'll tell us he prefers roundabouts to stoplights?

I think it's time to move on. I'll try another coffee shop and see what they're talking about there.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Not dead yet

Hi all.

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. I apologize for my long absence. I've had a big month, and now I'm home in MSP for the holidays. I'm currently in a Dunn Bros enjoying a delicious cappucino and listening to two handsome gentlemen discussing baptism. (What it means, is it necessary, what does Jesus say, etc.) Straight ahead of me on the coffee shop computer is a really bad transvestite with piercings in his/her nose and lower lip. Ah, diversity, thy name is America. (Happy Sigh)

We're going with the numbering system to get caught up, then I'll start fresh tomorrow.

1) Flew to NYC. Tom picked me up at JFK. We had a joyous reunion in a parking lot, and then headed back to Brooklyn. Stopped for a late-night dinner at Nathan's Famous in Coney Island.
2) Had dimsum in Chinatown on Thanksgiving AM. We sat at a table of eight with six Chinese youth. They laughed at Tom's Chinese, but we got what we wanted so it couldn't have been that bad.
3) George made a delicious dinner, which the three of us shared with their friends Imran and Emory, who are perfect. We had a delightful day, and drank some delicious personal favourite was the Amarone.
4) Friday and Saturday we just spent time together. We saw Avenue Q and Wicked, both EXCELLENT. We met my friend Blane for drinks after he got out of work on Friday and went to the village for sushi. Sat in Blane's favourite bar and drank a bit, then went to Marie's Crisis for showtunes. It's amazing how someone you've known your whole life can be absent for years, and then you see them and you somehow fit like you've never been away.
5) Flew home Sunday.
6) Filled out an application for an Executive MBA programme at Cranfield University. Submitted it online on 30 November.
7) 1 December they called me to schedule an interview on 9 December. Yikes
8) Made it through my jetlag in time to pick my friend Bethany up at the airport the following Sunday. We had two weeks of fun touring around. I love Bethany.
9) Studied for the Cranfield Tests (to replace the GMAT that I didn't have time to take.)
10) Interviewed for an entire day on Friday the 9th.
11) Crammed in one last proposal the following week, as I only worked Monday and Tuesday.
12) Wednesday, I called for my admissions results. I got in...I start my part-time EMBA on 12 January!
13) Elated, I continued into London to spend the day at the immigration office. I can now stay in the UK for five years, which is good as I've committed to three now due to grad school. (Two years of school, one additional contract year to my employer.)
14) Realised I will officially be in the UK for the entire GWB second term. I wonder if that makes me an exile?
15) Thursday I met my friend Pam at Heathrow for lunch, as she was on her way to Austria for the winter.
16) Friday Bethany and I flew to the US. Spent five hours in delay at O'Hare. (Pleh.)
17) Saturday I got my hair cut in a sassy little two-toned bob. Soni and Anne came to see me at the salon, and we felt like our own white-girl version of Barbershop. Went to the best supper club ever for dinner with KB&D for dinner.
18) Sunday I hung out with my brother and his family. I brought funky ketchup from the UK (Curry and Chili flavours), and we ate them on tater tots.
19) On Monday I had lunch with my friend Lisa Starr. We went shopping (found some great cashmere sweaters, a necessary add in this HORRIBLE weather,) and we defaced a Frango gift basket at Dayton's (Marshall Fields/Macy's) to get the mixed box out because they had no more on the shelf. We would have left well enough alone, but the clerk was snotty in a "sucks for you" way when she realised they were sold out of the single item versions of this product, so we thought we'd show her what for. Turns out you can't buy them singley, so we had to settle for just raspberry.
20) Tuesday I spent the day with my friend KC. We went to my godson's Christmas pagent at preschool. They did great gestures whilst singing Rudolph. Had dinner with Tim and Kelli at their house and I stayed too long. I forget that I'm not working but others are.
21) Wednesday I had lunch with my friend Mark Banker and said hi to my BI friends, came to this coffee shop, and will be having dinner with Kim and Abby at my favourite Thai place.
22) The hectic schedule goes on. More observations and info soon.

I'm really happy to be home. I was homesick, and now I'm surrounded by way lots of people who love me (and I love them back.)

Favourite food since I arrived: Pickles!
Favourite drink: Dirty Martini at Mancini's
Favourite sight: the dirty old Ford on Hiawatha, whose 12 bumper stickers told me he was a liberal Christian vegan. God Bless the USA!