Monday, December 08, 2008

Great moments in my christmas history

Nice camera angle.
No wonder my mom was always telling me to sit like a lady.
Luckily, though, that's just a bit of teenage cellulite and not a full Britney.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Great moments in my history


See, Pam? I can do better. You can almost see the short bus pulling up around the corner.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Great moments in my Christmas history



Thirteen years old, and my pajamas still had rubber feet.
We don't call this "The Special People Club" for nothing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sharing the ceremony

Note - this is a very long post...it took 25 minutes to actually read aloud, but since some of you might be interested I'm posting it.

The Transcript of the Official Wedding Ceremony of Poor George and Coaster Punchman

I’d like to welcome everyone to this beautiful setting today to witness and celebrate the marriage of two spectacular people, Poor George and Coaster Punchman.

Some of you know me and to others I’m a new face – my name is Melinda June, and I’m a close friend of the happy couple. I’m incredibly honored and a little overwhelmed that they’ve asked me to perform this ceremony. And I apologize in advance that I’m going to read this whole thing…it’s very important to me that I get this right, and since we couldn’t get a teleprompter this is the only recourse.

As is obvious by the number of you gathered here today, I’m not the only person in this world who adores these two men.Therefore, when they asked me to prepare the ceremony and vows, I decided to enlist the help of the scores of people who love them, and I sent out an email asking for input. I’ve gotten many, many responses, and I’ll be using quotes and references from these emails to help make this ceremony a reflection of the love and good wishes being sent their way

Let’s start today with some thoughts from ES, who has known CP for years and who sent an eloquent note about how society defines marriage. She writes:

When we speak of marriage, we speak of it in two senses, as a spiritual or existential relationship between two people and as a legal institution. Marriage in spirit is marriage in the sense of Shakespeare’s famous sonnet: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment.” Out first instinct, I think, is to say that this is marriage in its truest sense. This is marriage of spirit and mind and heart, of love and faith and charity. Many couples, albeit they be “married,” never have this kind of marriage; no law or god creates it, it cannot be put asunder, by will of god or man or by the letter of the law. Of course this is the sort of marriage that CP and Poor George already have. This ceremony does not create this true marriage for it already exists. This ceremony and the signed piece of paper that accompanies it do something different. Something legal, something public.

Marriage in this truest sense and marriage in the legal sense are two different things that only sometimes overlap. Marriage in the legal sense may coincide with a couple’s feelings, but need not, and often, historically, does not.Indeed, what marriage means legally has differed according to place and time: where once marriage was legally understood as a set of contractual obligations between individuals and their families, our modern, legal understanding of marriage is as a set of rights, that may or may not be exercised by adults, as they so choose. But why choose marriage in the legal sense?

Marriage of the spirit is private: a domestic, intimate relationship that only two partake in. We know little of our friends or families’ marriages in this sense. But their legal marriage is our business. For marriage, in the legal sense, is a public event, a contract made between two citizens and civil society. I commit myself to this man, in front of you, with you as my witnesses, to live in society with you (fellow citizens) with this man as my spouse. Indeed, it is this externalization, the performative of the “I do,” which makes marriage more than just an intimate conversation between two, but a civic institution, to be respected. I think, therefore, that we can all feel fortunate that another couple has entered this civic institution of marriage, with the true feelings of spiritual marriage behind it.

Her point is well taken, because it’s the legal aspects of marriage that have brought us here today instead of sometime next spring.

It’s unjust that we’ve had to rush this ceremony. As you may or not know, there is a ballot initiative called Proposition 8 that will be given a yea or nay vote on November 4, and if it passes California will no longer issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Therefore, there hasn’t been time to plan this like a normal wedding, because waiting may mean that CP and Poor George would lose their right to legal recognition of their bond.

Whether it’s Proposition 8 or a similar initiative in another state, it’s important to vote NO, and to vocalize how destructive and mean-spirited this kind of bigotry is. In fact, California and Massachusetts are the only states that currently issue licenses for same-sex marriages. And, after the ceremony today, in the unlikely event that CP and Poor George decide to separate, they will have the hassles of divorce to deal with, but their union will not be recognized in most states in the US, and they will still not receive the federal privileges of marriage. It’s important that we, as people who love them, speak openly about this and actively seek to win hearts and minds, and change state and federal laws so that discrimination like this becomes a thing of the past.

It’s funny. Ballot initiatives like Proposition 8 make same-sex marriage the new “shotgun wedding” – couples are running to the county clerk to get on the right side of the law before the big day, which in this case, is the November 4th election.

BUT!

We are not here today to celebrate the legality of same-sex marriage. We are here to celebrate the spiritual, the TRADITIONAL marriage of two people who love each other dearly, and who are ready to stand in front of their friends and loved ones to make a lifelong commitment to each other.

And the fact that you’ve all dropped everything and travelled to San Diego to be here with them today is especially meaningful. Poor George and CP would like me to thank you for your love and support.

So – ONWARD!

CP and Poor George are no dewy-eyed newlyweds. They are unique, talented individuals that bring rich personal histories and perspectives to their relationship.

When I asked people about Georgie - or Poor George as he’s known on CP’s blog – they immediately speak of his talents, both in the kitchen and in music.

Poor George’s friends and fellow musicians will tell you he is one of the most amazing musicians they know. If playing Carnegie Hall is a milestone, then Poor George achieved it at a very young age. Pretty impressive.

Through his music, Poor George has touched the lives of many, and along the way he’s made fiercely loyal friends. And though in many cases it is music that brings them together, it is Poor George’s goofy personality and his extraordinary culinary skills that build the lifelong friendships that surround him.

To a one, Poor George and CP’s friends and family rave about Poor George’s cooking, hospitality and genial gatherings. His niece B credits Poor George with introducing her to the finer culture of food and wine, and the art of living a beautiful life. One of his frequent guests, JB, tells a story that anyone who has dined at Poor George’s house can relate to. He says, “I recall a moment of clarity and culinary ecstasy as I dipped my first chip into the Santa Fe dip, then several minutes of bliss, and finally a moment of horror as I reached the bottom of the bowl almost single-handedly. I swear the salad bowl was quite large, and I’m fairly sure I contributed nothing to the conversation but the sound of constant chewing.”

But more than this, when people speak of Poor George, they speak of his kindness. His generosity. His good humor, his warmth and his optimism. They tell stories of him coming to play he-man and change a flat tire in the middle of the night. Of him cracking jokes to relieve tension. Of outrageous goofiness and giggling. And of his ability to make those around him get perspective when they are troubled or stressed by the ways of the world.

As I’ve gotten to know him, I realize that this is just who Poor George is. He’s the guy who’s always cracking jokes and is the life of the party, but he’s the guy who's also always looking out for you, whether you know it or not. Poor George will always tell you the truth. He lives his life honestly, and he demands that those around him do, too. But he does so with kindness and sensitivity, and respect for the people he loves.

It is these qualities of kindness and caring, Poor George, that CP’s sister M described when she spoke of your love for her brother. She’s seen you care for CP when he’s ailing, watching out for him and supporting him, and making him laugh and lighten up when he’s taking things too seriously.

It is this quiet way in which you express your love that has made those who love CP love you.

This ancient Chinese love poem was written by Kuan Tao-Sheng (1262-1319) :

You and I
Have so much love

That it burns like a fire,

In which we bake a lump of clay

Molded into a figure of you

And a figure of me.

Then we take both of them,

And break them into pieces,

And mix the pieces with water,

And mold again a figure of you,

And a figure of me.

I am in your clay.

You are in my clay.

In life we share a single quilt.

In death we will share one bed.


And now we turn to Coaster Punchman.

CP’s friends often describe him as a sweet, gentle soul with a rapier wit. He’s sardonic and generous, and he is one of those rare people you meet whom you know is good to the core.

And I guess that’s true. But, CP, you’re also a goofy lug, prone to silliness, obsession and excitability. Which is part of your charm, but also makes for good story telling.

CP is completely unaware that most people don’t go through life screaming like a little girl every time they’re startled. It makes even something as mundane as grocery shopping an adventure, and driving with him can become an amusement park ride. It’s even better when he talks to himself, too.

Trendy Wendy, a friend of CP’s from college, will tell you of the $20 cupcake they simply HAD to have when she was visiting New York, which of course turned out to be Nilla Wafers, banana pudding, bananas and cool whip – a testament to CP’s obsessive love of sweets AND his secret church-potluck cravings.

When Alex the King remembers the Northridge earthquake, the shaking and the broken plates are overshadowed by CP’s revulsion and embarrassment when “that awful Brad Allen” ate almost a whole jar of Alex’s marionberry jam by continually putting his personal spoon directly in the jar. I think it may be the most grievous violation of etiquette that CP can remember, and was likely the start of his Miss Manners fascination.

Much to the annoyance of their daughters, mothers the world over love CP, even when he bleeds on their floor and requires a trip to the emergency room – something he did to Bob and Judy when he was only four years old. But they still consider him part of their family, as do countless other parents, including my own. CP is like a son to them, and they even throw him birthday parties to prove it. Personally, I think it’s because he’s a bit of a suck-up. But it’s also because he is a kind, engaging person who makes an effort to connect with people.

And then maybe it’s also the spontaneous swing dancing and tap lessons.

But perhaps one of the most telling stories is the one CP’s friend MC emailed me, who carried a piece of paper with his name engraved on it in her wallet for years. She kept it, because on the back he’d scrawled the words, “To thine own self be true.” It may not have always been easy for him, but his life thus far is a testament to following that advice.

CP brings his personality and his eccentricity to his relationship with Poor George, and in it, Poor George has found a soul mate in silliness, and someone to love and support. Poor George once spoke of love with his close friend, June, and told her that love should not be two people trying to find their identity in one another, but instead two people with their own sense of selves, building a bridge to meet in a common place, appreciating, enjoying and supporting each other as they weather the inevitable bumps and difficulties that life puts in their path. And she believes he’s found this with CP. Poor George’s sister Ruby echoes this sentiment. She says that since he’s been with CP, Poor George has been happier, transformed through their connection of love, communication, wine and gourmet food. What more can you wish for someone you love?

This poem was submitted for CP and Poor George by Wonderturtle from the blog circle:

Prayer for a Marriage
Steve Scafidi

When we are old one night and the moon

arcs over the house

like an antique China saucer

and the teacup sun

follows
somewhere far behind
I hope the stars deepen to a shine

so bright you could read by it


if you liked and the sadnesses

we will have known go away

for awhile--in this hour or two


before sleep--and that we kiss

standing in the kitchen not fighting

gravity so much as embodying


its sweet force, and I hope we kiss

like we do today knowing so much<

good is said in this primitive tongue


from the wild first surprising ones

to the lower dizzy ten thousand

infinitely slower ones--and I hope


while we stand there in the kitchen

making tea and kissing, the whistle

of the teapot wakes the neighbors.


CP and Poor George have many devoted friends from every era of their lives. And as we’ve watched them come together in the last 11 years, we’ve seen two individuals who found happiness in each other. With Poor George’s culinary talents and CP’s cocktail skills and general hospitality theirs is the most coveted dinner invitation in town. They are honest and open with each other and don’t gloss over the pain and struggles, but they maintain a sense of humor and find joy even when you wonder how they can.

They bicker like fishwives, and have since the day they met – Just ask Cousin Michael, who introduced them. This is especially true in the kitchen, but they always reconcile because they know what things actually matter. And if any of us express concern, they answer, “Oh, we do that all the time. Not to worry.” So we don’t. Because, as their friend VC put it, we see a strong, healthy and loving partnership that allows them to be themselves and love that about the other.

CP and Poor George, as you enter into this formal union, remember it is who you are as individuals that brought you to each other. Your friends E&I give you wise advice when they encourage you to keep driving each other nuts with lots of love so you’ll always know the other one is there. Respect each other, and take time to see one another as the person you fell in love with in the first place. And our wish for you is that you wake up tomorrow morning, smile at each other and know that the good thing you’ve had for so long is only going to get better and better.

KAPPA READS IN RUSSIAN

And finally, this poem was sent by HTW, who is a friend of CP’s from high school. It’s a summary of the questions you’ve asked, what you’ve found in each other, and an invitation to share the joy, heartache and love of your futures.

The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer


It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living.

I want to know what you ache for

and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.


It doesn’t interest me how old you are.

I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool

for love

for your dream

for the adventure of being alive.


It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon...

I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow

if you have been opened by life’s betrayals

or have become shriveled and closed

from fear of further pain.


I want to know if you can sit with pain

mine or your own

without moving to hide it

or fade it

or fix it.


I want to know if you can be with joy

mine or your own

if you can dance with wildness

and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes

without cautioning us

to be careful

to be realistic

to remember the limitations of being human.


It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me

is true.

I want to know if you can

disappoint another

to be true to yourself.

If you can bear the accusation of betrayal

and not betray your own soul.

If you can be faithless

and therefore trustworthy.


I want to know if you can see Beauty

even when it is not pretty

every day.

And if you can source your own life

from its presence.


I want to know if you can live with failure

yours and mine

and still stand at the edge of the lake

and shout to the silver of the full moon,

“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me

to know where you live or how much money you have.

I want to know if you can get up

after the night of grief and despair

weary and bruised to the bone

and do what needs to be done

to feed the children.


It doesn’t interest me who you know

or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand

in the centre of the fire

with me

and not shrink back.


It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom

you have studied.

I want to know what sustains you

from the inside

when all else falls away.


I want to know if you can be alone

with yourself

and if you truly like the company you keep

in the empty moments.


And now, before they exchange vows and rings, Poor George and CP would like to offer a moment of silence to remember their loved ones who are no longer with us in body, but whom we know are with us today in spirit.

(list of loved ones, including Betty the Cat)

(Silence)
(Alex the King sings)

CP and Poor George have separately developed their vows to the other, and have asked that I read them in front of you today.

CP, in his lawyerly way, has approached this like a contract, with promises to Poor George, and reciprocal conditions.

Poor George,

1) CP promises to allow and encourage you to continue to grow as an individual, and he requests that you are equally committed to us growing as a couple.
2) He promises to make sure you are always surrounded by loving friends and family, and asks that you remember that you are never alone as a couple, but one part of a loving community.
3) He will allow you to get a dog, even though he’s not making a firm commitment on breed just yet, and asks you to at least consider a pound puppy who needs a loving home rather than spending $1000 on some smoosh-faced purebred.
4) CP promises to be supportive when you’re feeling discouraged, disgruntled or otherwise unhappy, and in return, he asks that you remember that he loves you even when he’s having a crabalanche.
5) He will try never to go to bed angry at you, and will not force you to always be the first to apologize, and he wants you to know that when HE apologizes, he really means it.
6) He’ll even give 75% to the relationship, expecting only 25% in return. CP asks that you use your accounting skills to get creative with your own math.
7) CP will not make fun of you for being a total 100% goofball, and begs you never to stop being so silly and childlike.
8) CP promises to love you at least as much as he loves the cats, but asks that you never stop doing your cat imitations.
9) CP vows to try to accept your advice and constructive criticism, and asks you to continue to let him make up his own mind about important personal decisions. And to stop yelling at him in the kitchen when you’re teaching him to cook.<
10) CP promises to remember every day how many things he has to appreciate about you, and to remember how lucky he is. But you have to continue to let him dress you.

CP, is this an accurate summary of your vows?

And Poor George, do you agree to his terms?

CP, here are Poor George’s counter terms for you.

1) Poor George promises you the freedom to pursue your freakish fascination with Mormons, but he’s not going to join the Church of Latter Day Saints, no matter how nicely you ask.
2) Poor George will allow you to continue your repetitive viewings of Cheesy Made For TV Movies and other mass market movies, including but not limited to Not Without My Daughter, Muriel’s Wedding, Sybil, Mommie Dearest and other various Female Rage movies, but he can’t always promise he’ll sit through them with you.
3) He will not raise a stink about you single-handedly supporting Proctor and Gamble and various other health, beauty and pharmaceutical companies, but he reserves the right to stay product-free himself.
4) He promises to leave you to your periods of crippling inactivity on the sofa, but if you start sprouting potato buds you’re going on a hike together.
5) Poor George will not make fun of you when you commit culinary blunders, but he will snicker at baked Worcestershire Sauce with a Dollop of Cheesy Grits.
6) He promises to not abandon you during your crabalanches. In fact, he’s inventing a new sport called crab-skiing. It’s extreme, but he’s willing to ride the wave.
7) It’s OK with Poor George that you have an unusual obsession with cats, and he pledges to help take care of your kitties, too.
8) Poor George will happily provide the sweets for that tooth of yours, but he reserves the right to hide things and make sure you swallow between bites.
9) Poor George will not interfere with your blogging activities, even though they reveal his private life to hundreds of people he’s never met – but asks you to remember that you’ll run out of material if all you do is blog.
10) And most importantly, Poor George promises to care for you, comfort you, keep you company, feed you, shelter you, support you and share his life with you. And he promises this with no ifs, ands, buts or reservations.

Poor George, is this an accurate summary of your vows?

And CP, are these terms acceptable to you?

Then may we have the rings, please.

CP, please repeat after me.

I, CP, take you, Poor George, to be my spouse this day and forevermore. With this ring, I gladly marry you and join my life to yours. It is a symbol of my love, my faith in our strength together, and my promise to learn and grow with you.

Poor George, please repeat after me. I, Poor George, take you, CP, to be my spouse this day and forevermore. With this ring, I gladly marry you and join my life to yours. It is a symbol of my love, my faith in our strength together, and my promise to learn and grow with you.

Gentlemen, by the powers vested in me by the Universal Life Church of the World Wide Web, I pronounce you legally wedded spouses. Now give us a kiss!

Fade to Champagne toasts....and from Katie Schwartz, I read this on behalf of the blogging world:

May the world through each of your eyes remain magnificent and plentiful May your greatest pleasure always be the celebration of each other's individuality and the "we" that you create together. May life's hurdles and obstacles be overcome by looking into each other's eyes and knowing unequivocally that you will always be there for the other. May the simplicity of generosity, kindness, sarcasm and laughter inform every day of your life together. Live out loud—let the world know you’re here. Honor the best of who you are together in your commitment to preserving each other's happiness.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Hiatus

Hello, all.

I didn't realise it, but I, too seem to be on some sort of hiatus. It's all the leaving activities and the laziness of day to day relaxation, I guess. As it is, I'm soon to be doing a last wander to say goodbye to a few folks and have some fun, and I will be sans computer for the next week. Likely no posts or checking of email until Sunday.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

New Blog

After reading of MnMom's desire to lose weight, I decided that I, too, must start using the power of the internets to shame myself into losing weight. But I don't want to clutter this site up with a bunch of dieting stuff or it will detract from my John-McCain-is-old jokes. Therefore, I have created a new blog called Lard Ass to Tight Ass. I will make it a group blog, and if you'd like to join me you're welcome. I know there are excellent group blogs for health regimes out there. This is not one of them. I anticipate there will be times that I, personally, blog about the deliciousness of chocolate cake. And the joy of lardassing on the sofa. Dieting isn't particularly fun or funny, and what's the point of blogging if you don't even amuse yourself? In fact, if you're reading this and would like to blog about how you keep your muffin top in top form you're welcome to join, too. Perhaps I will be able to stave off cravings by living vicariously through you.

I'm going to make it members only, so you will need to ask me for permission to join. You can do this by emailing me at mygiantbackside@yahoo.co.uk.

You can gain posting status as an author, or you can simply request an opportunity to join as a reader to lend support. I've only made it private to avoid flamers who want to anonymously taunt me (I had enough of that in junior high,) and to block out chubby chasers looking for love. I don't trust men who only date fat women.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Plate o' shrimp, vol 8.

While sitting on the train this weekend, I heard this guy sitting across the aisle tell his girlfriend that she would "go ape" for the food wherever they were going. She wasn't convinced. When we got off to change trains at Clapham Junction, that same guy slid when he stepped on a banana peel.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

17 days left

1. Obviously, I've become quite attached to this whole numbering format. Though I've strayed a bit lately, it seems this is a formula I can stick with. It makes it a lot easier to blog, because random thoughts can all go in the same entry. But I feel like I've lost my edge. My ability to spin a yarn. Hmmm.
2. I have excellent bedhead today. I wish I could get my hair to do this every day.
3. There's fine mist blowing about. So fine it looks like snow, but of course it's not since it's 60 degrees out. Great day for a barbeque! Which is what I'm doing this afternoon.
4. We went out to celebrate C's last day of work last night. It was a quiet night out in Horsham. We did meet one guy who demanded a hug when we walked past (we obliged,) but there were no rowdy yob-types in sight. It hardly felt like England.
5. There were, however, many men wearing shockingly strong cologne. Nice to know some things remain the same.
6. I think it's odd that cooking shows have appliances they'll never need on the counters behind them. There's an expensive espresso machine, a malt maker, a meat grinder and a fruit press behind them on Saturday Kitchen. There's no need for this. We all know that they're not going to teach us to make a cup of coffee some morning. A malt, on the other hand, would be a tasty treat. Perhaps someday they'll make a mochaccino bologna malt with fresh grapefruit juice. Yum.
7. Do you have the Beijing Olympics cartoon ad that has that creepy monkey with the many sharp teeth, or is that just a Beeb thing? If that guy is competing, I'm not watching. He scares me. Okay. I used the Google to answer my own question, and it's a BBC thing designed by the Gorillaz guy. Whom I dig. But as afar as I'm concerned, this is not on.
8. We have like a 75 hour train trip to get to our barbecue. I wish it were sunny.
9. Or even just warm.
10. But it's not.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Animal Planet

Why aren't all nature programs like this?


Hey, Baby


I'm making a watermelon feta salad to go with the tofu burgers tonight, and I needed to pick up a few things. I had a nice stroll into town, drank a coffee and restocked my book options, then went to Sainsburys.

Keiren was picking me up, so I stood in front of the store to wait for his arrival. I'm wearing knee length jean shorts and a baggy mens-ish shirt and sandals. And holding a watermelon. Which made me think, "Hey! I'm just like Baby! You can't put me in the corner!" And I did a little merengue in my head.

If I'd been standing next to a ginger, I'm sure people would have noticed the similarity, and probably pointed. I just hope my hair wasn't as puffy.

I really need to start working again.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Make these

Seriously, they're delicious.

If I were a cat

The other day I saw the dorkiest, clumsiest cat ever.

It was a bit fat, and it wanted to get to a shed roof to sun itself. So it struggled to claw it's way up the side of the fence. It finally made it. "It's smooth sailing now, my friend," or so I thought.

After a few seconds' pause to steady itself, it did this awkward claw/crawl along the top of the fence and the rail just below the edge that keeps the fence slats upright. It had to stop mid-way, seemingly to catch its breath and balance. Eventually, Lard Kitty made it to the side of the shed, and did a gingerly side step and crawl maneuver that moved it up on its destination, and then it collapsed in a heap, its chest heaving while it relaxed in the sun.

I think I'm going to go for a run tomorrow. Could probably do with a little exercise

Against the tide

I know this is going to make me very unpopular in blogland, but I'm here to tell you that, while bacon is delicious and chocolate is might-ee-fine, combining bacon and chocolate is just asking for trouble. In fact, bacon and chocolate sounds nasty. Especially bacon and white chocolate, which has no bite at all and would simply dilute the smoky goodness. No, I'm even willing to go out on a ledge and say that putting bacon and chocolate together is a downright bad idea.

I also think bacon martinis make no sense and that a bacon trifle would also be disgusting. Bacon and jello might work, but only if there were carrots and celery in the mix, too, and probably only with the lighter, more refreshing jellos of the orange/lime/lemon variety as they would give a better balance.

I know. I'm a rebel. But I will not stand by and allow this rampant bacon lust to continue without a sanity check.

Getting down to business

1. So today, I have to get a little more serious. I've been revising my resume to get rid of the UK spellings and to have a US address. In a bit I'm also going to make a marketing manager version of it to use for comms jobs, all ready for sending out tomorrow. Wouldn't want to do too much in one day.
2. I have developed a serious love of the show Flight of the Conchords. K&C have the first season on DVD, and we started watching it for kicks this weekend. Good lord, that's funny.

3. My youngest nephew's little league team just won the Minnesota championships. They're on to Indianapolis next weekend to play in the Midwest Regionals, next stop the Little League World Series. He's pitching this year, and I see by the game summaries his hitting doesn't suck, either. I wonder if he's watching The Bad News Bears to prepare? Or maybe that lame movie about an angel in the outfield. (Duh. Everyone knows angels don't play baseball.) I just hope he's doing something. I mean, training is important. The team from his town did well last year, but ended their run is dishonor with the whole spit-shake scandal of aught seven. Let's hope the lecture his auntie gave him about unsportsmanlike behavior making him look like a doorknob sunk in.
4. Yesterday was a picture perfect day. We had a relaxing morning, then took a picnic to the park to sit in the shade and read papers. Horsham's city park is huge and really pretty. We found a nice spot by the duck pond and went through the FT, The Times, The Independent and the Observer. There was a geezer brass band playing in the band shell, and occasionally the wind would catch the music and we'd hear wafts of a Jesus Christ Superstar medley. It's just too bad there weren't dancing zealots and lepers. Now THAT would have been a Sunday in the park.
5. Upon contemplation, I've realized there are two songs that have contributed to my decision to leave the UK and return to home shores. And it's pretty embarrassing, really. One is that Kid Rock song about teenage summers by the lake in northern Michigan, and the other is Dolly Parton's new single about getting (or should that be gettin') to livin'/g. I'm obviously very impressionable right now. Best keep Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses far far away.
6. Every time I make or hear mention of cults, it always brings to mind one of my favorite memories of childhood. We were with my grandmother in Waterloo, it was night, and we were waiting in the car while my mom ran into a store. And for some reason we were afraid that Moonies might come and knock on the window. I don't know, maybe there were some milling around or something, but I vividly remember keeping an eye out for brainwashed zombies, and worrying that someone would tie me to a chair and try to make me give up Jesus.
7. This is not a favorite memory because it's a happy one that I cherish. I have those, too, but this particular one is a favorite because it's so random.
8. For what it's worth, I remember learning about the Jonestown massacre while I was flipping through a Time magazine at piano lessons waiting for my brother to finish his turn. There were pictures of all these dead bodies laying around the compound with kool aid stains on their shirts. I believe it must have been either grape or possibly one of the reds, such as cherry, because the stains looked like blood splattered everywhere. I remember being much more shocked at the thought of these hideous kool aid stains than at the mass death of the scene. I mean, that grape kool aid is a bitch to get out of whites. Every time someone uses the "clever" drink-the-kool aid analogy I conjure this little gem up, as well, and then wonder if I have enough Spray and Wash at home. The subconscious mind is a wacky, wacky thing.
9. How can it be a quarter to four? That's nuts.
10. I'm only here for three more weeks. Weird.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Adventures of the unemployed

1. While I'm waiting for the movers to arrive in MK, I have been killing time at Gloria Jean's coffee in the Hub:mk. I wouldn't be one to go to a Gloria Jean's in the US. I associate them with those naff flavored coffees like hazelnut and amaretto creme. (I hate flavored coffees. A lot.) But here they have a nice atmosphere, free wifi, they play decent music and the coffee is excellent. They do a proper leaf pattern on the top, always the hallmark of a barista that knows what they're doing. They also make iced tea, which you can't find ANYWHERE in the UK, and which is one of my favorite things to drink on a hot day. I give a big thumbs up to Gloria Jean's in MK.
2. My friends Justin and Alexa have the best dog. Her name is Camilla, or Millie for short, and she is a Yorkshire Terrier. Now, I am not a fan of the tiny yippy dog. But this dog is sweet and funny and very smart. She has the most expressive face and she has a big personality and when she climbs all over you you hardly even notice it because she weighs practically nothing. She has this green stuffed animal that is bigger than she is. She carries/rolls it around the room and loves it when you try to grab it away from her. She'll grab on and growl and let you toss her around, and then lets go and insists that you throw it so she can fetch. It's great fun. She also has a tendency to hump the thing now and again, which is puzzling but there you have it.
3. She also moves very fast, and will crawl up you and start licking your face so fast that you get a tongue in your nose or mouth before your reflexes can reach up and pull her off.
4. Here in the Hub there is a fountain in the middle, surrounded by six or so restaurants with outdoor seating. It's a great place to be when the sun is out, and excellent people watching. Above the restaurants there are about eight floors of apartments. I think they should have taken a bit more time vetting the people who moved in to these, as they seem to have allowed some pretty raunchy folks in. There is one guy that I refer to as pathetic-drunken-stroke-guy, as he always has that out-of-it look that only alcoholics who never sober up have, and he walks with a cane as though he's recovering from a stroke. When he walks into the Brazilian restaurant they don't even ask - they just pour him a huge glass of red wine. You often see him step outside for a cigarette, but then he's back drinking another. He has this vaguely creepy/vapid perma-grin, and no matter what time of the day or night you are here you'll see him with a glass of wine. He depresses me.
5. Since I've been homeless, I've spent quite a bit of time here at the Hub. Cafe Rouge, a chain French restaurant, has great outside seating and makes a mean breakfast so I come here to read the paper and fortify. I am particularly fond of their Crouque Madame, which is basically a ham and Gruyere sandwich with a bit of bechamel and an egg. Mmm. Perfect with a glass of tomato juice.
6. I'm having a lot of trouble getting rid of my UK spellings. I've been trying, but those extra u's and replacement s's have become commonplace. Now when I write "favor" or "color" or "alphabetize" it looks wrong. I never did really cotton to the whole "re" versus "er" thing, though, so that one is not a problem. I also realise (I mean realize) that I'm going to have to stop saying things like, "I quite like..." and using proper as substitution for real/good/actual/authentic.
7. I wonder why there aren't any Taco Bells in the UK.
8. I'm trying to read a Terry Pratchett book. Everyone raves about Terry Pratchett. Oh, he's so funny. Oh, he's so clever. Oh, he's just great. Oh, he's my guilty pleasure. Thus far, I don't really see the appeal. I mean, it's not horrible. It's just not wowing me. (Imagine a squinty shrug and a "meh")
9. I could really use some new summer clothes.
10. It's a lot easier to eat healthily and get exercise when you don't work. And don't mean kind of easier. I mean a LOT easier. You can make it the focus of your existence instead of something you fit in between meetings.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Relaxing in the English sun

1. I spent my birthday relaxing in the garden. Read papers, drank coffee, soaked up some sun. It was lovely. When they were done working for the day, Kieren and Corrie and I split a bottle of champagne. Or rather Corrie and I did. Then they took me to dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant. came home, had more champagne and sat in the garden chatting. It was a lovely day.
2. They have one of those strange wand things in the shower, much like the enema looking thing at the Royalton. This morning, I learned that if you accidentally turn it on when you're just trying to turn on the rain shower it will spray you in the face. It is surprising.
3. I burned my forearm on a wok, but didn't realise it until today when the blister popped.
4. Took the train to London and then on to Milton Keynes. I'm staying here tonight and tomorrow, having dinner with friends and meeting the movers when they come pick up my stuff. I have one last chance to rescue some favourite things from the two month exile. Thinking I may need to grab the first few seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm as K&C have not seen it.
5. How's this for odd...I often call Kieren "KB", his initials. And I call my friend Karen "KB", too - HER initials. And now I typed K&C for Kieren and Corrie, their initials. And I have a very close friend named KC - HER initials. Talk about a plate o' shrimp.
6. I just finished a book called The Post Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. Don't read it. It sucked. The only things to like about it were the really bad approximation of a cockney accent, which was laughable, and the fact that eventually it ended. It was one of those books that you read and you are on page 200 and you can basically predict the remainder of the plot. Which is compounded by the fact that it uses this parallel universe plot device wherein about chapter two she decides to kiss/not to kiss a man who is not her partner, and so the rest of the book has two of each chapter so you can see the two paths side by side and compare how her decision impacted her life. I liked Sliding Doors so I figured this might be okay. It was not. I found the characters flat, the writing stilted and obvious, and at times I felt like some metaphorical hammer was slamming me in the temple to make sure I got her point.
7. It was lovely and warm today. Really just a perfect summer day.

8. I forgot that I needed to add Adrian Brody to the sexy man list. Which means I should probably remove someone. So I'm taking off Clooney. He'd frighten me in real life anyway. Smooth men intimidate me.

9. There is a great program called 10 Years Younger, where they do massive makeovers of people who look much older than they actually are. They gauge their age by having them stand in the street before and after the makeover and let 100 people guess their age. Often there are women who are younger than me who look like they're 60. It's shocking. You get fashion, makeup and hair tips AND you get to see the plastic surgery. It's awesome. As you might guess, many of them have very bad teeth.
10. It's supposed to be sunny tomorrow, too. Perhaps I'll relax and sit in the sun while I read the newspaper. That would be delightful.

Now THAT'S some foreign policy

Nothing says, "I'm a seasoned diplomat who will raise our standing in the world and gain global consensus for the war on terror," like a grotesque stereotype of a European power used to taunt your press entourage into hating the other guy.

Seriously, who in the McCain campaign is that stupid? The joke might actually be funny if it appeared as an op ed cartoon from a neutral source. Because it IS kind of funny that normal journalists with months on the Obama campaign have been kicked off so Katie Couric and that annoying Charlie Gibson can get a holiday abroad. And who doesn't find a Frenchie in an ill-fitting beret and a neckerchief amusing? About the only thing that would make that funnier is if he talked like Kevin Kline when he's pretending to be French. Or maybe a talking frog wearing an ill-fitting beret and neckerchief and speaking with a fake French accent. Now THAT'S comedy.

Unfortunately, coming from inside the McCain camp, this is not funny -it's worrying. My guess is that some staffer who watches a lot of late night TV comedy came up with a joke, and the entire campaign is so out of touch with the real world that they thought they could go for the laugh and be as popular with the kids these days as that whipper snapper Stephen Colbert. (Message = See, John McCain isn't that old...he's down with the satire, yo. Word.)

Yes, these sorts of diplomatic skills will work wonders with our foreign colleagues. Glad to know all that experience is giving us dividends, Gramps. And nice touch telling the few remaining press that might still be sympathetic to you that they're a bunch of no-account losers. I'm sure that will endear you to them, as it illustrates that you're on their side. Perhaps for your next press conference you can make a pass with a picture of some redneck in front of his foreclosed house drinking a Coors (not a Bud now that them Belgians bought it,) and he can be whining about the price of gas. That's a really funny way to remind people that Barack Obama doesn't like them and is responsible for the oil crisis. (Which is all in their mind, according to Phil Gramm. I mean, seriously, people. Buck up.)

Just tell us you're running with Tim Pawlenty to get a few minutes of coverage and then ride this thing out. He'll be back from his trip next week and things will go back to normal.

Oh. And no, it doesn't make you look at all bitter that the other guy is getting more attention. Nope. Not even a little. Seriously. Why would I lie?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sexy Men

Occasionally I see tags out there wherein people denote the 10 sexiest actors/singers/etc. I don't usually do these. But today I feel like blogging but I haven't had enough coffee, so here I go. Giving you a window to my soul. In no particular order we have:


1. Ryan Gosling - both handsome AND a Mormon (though perhaps lapsed, therefore no funny underpants.)

2. Jack Black - hubba hubba.

3. Brad Garrett - My he's tall. And dark.










4. Chow Yun Fat - Because I've always wanted a boyfriend who could fly.

5. George Clooney - Don't hate him because he's beautiful. He didn't ask to be born that way.

6. Johnny Depp - I mean, come on. Does he EVER not make one of these lists?









7. Mark Ruffalo - whiny, gruff, a little slurred, scruffy, sweet and sorta brainy all in one.




8. Peter Krause - I know, I know. He's totally off type. Blond, from Minnesota, Scandinavian. Alas, I can't help myself. He's divine.







9. Sacha Baron Cohen - not only is he handsome, but he is quite simply the most daring person in modern times. Question that? Watch that naked fight scene from Borat one more time.


10. Steve Carrell - I mean, look at that. He's posing with garden gnomes. Swoon.


And honorable mention goes to #11 Robert Redford - because old habits die hard.

New Tools

From the Washington Post on May 21, 2008:


Dear Miss Manners:

How does one go about introducing a new eating utensil?

I have great problems eating pizza, onion soup and spaghetti neatly. What I need is a delicate pair of scissors, which would be called "cheese scissors." They could resemble the small scissors that hairdressers use. On the place setting, they could be placed to the right of the knife.

How can I go about making these scissors acceptable? Shall I just buy a pair and start using them?

It seems to me that discreetly cutting the cheese string would be much more ladylike than pulling a long string of cheese or wrapping it around my finger until it finally breaks. What do you think?

Obviously, the gentle reader is a certified genius. I mean, a fish knife looks nice but doesn't necessarily assist in eating. But a cheese scissors...now THAT is a useful table implement. Nothing burns like a string of hot cheese slapping an unsuspecting chin. And all that flinging of sauce as the string flies from plate to mouth. One dare not wear white on such occasions. I'm going to Boots to buy a full set, and will be using them every chance I get.

Miss Manners came out in favor, with a bit of snark, of course.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Unemployment

NOW NEW AND IMPROVED THROUGH THE MAGIC OF PROOFREADING!

1. After a mad scramble, I FINALLY got my belongings narrowed to shippable plus three suitcases and a carry on. You have no idea how hard it is to narrow all of your belongings to three suitcases of things for the foreseeable future. It's safe to say that these are the only things I will have access to for the next six weeks, possibly even the next two to three months - all depending upon how quickly they fill the rest of my shipping container. Work clothes, winter clothes and things I don't wear more than once a month went in the ship section. Summer clothes, interview clothes and things I would hate to have lost at sea went in the suitcases. I have a really good red and off white zipper cardigan that I've had for over 10 years. We had a soulful moment, even shed a tear as we were saying goodbye.
2. The people on Location, Location tonight are lottery winners who want to buy a house with their winnings. The woman in the couple has bought an obscene number of ridiculously expensive handbags and is burning through the money like it's kindling. I'm judging her. Judgity, judge, judge judge. Not that I have anything against obscene numbers of expensive handbags. I have something against someone else buying them AND having a spare million ££ for buying a fancy house.
3. I am rethinking all the blond highlight/halo lights that I had put in my hair last month. I think I'm too blond now. I want my chestnutty dark hair back. I like my chestnutty dark hair. In fact, damn my head for going totally grey and denying me my lovely chestnutty dark hair. Dare me to say chestnutty again? Chestnutty. HA!
4. On Sunday, I moved to Horsham with my friends Kieren and Corrie, and will remain here for the remainder of my time in the UK. I'll be travelling around a bit because there are lots of folks I need to see before I leave, but this is now my base. Therefore they inherited the spices and groceries and other things from the kitchen that I've been carrying around since I left Nadine's. We have the makings of a good hot and sour soup, various Penzey's spice blends and a box of Old Bay, and the makings of delicious pasta and chili and even a good chicken mole. I'm thanking them for their hospitality by helping with the cooking. Today I made a fish pate to have in the fridge for snacking and I whipped up a nice supper 0f caramelized salmon with stir fried greens on the side.
5. I brought an embarrassingly large amount of alcohol with me. I haven't been drinking much of late, and so I have three years of various accumulated whiskeys and vodkas and liqueurs that needed a new home. Last night I made delicious cranberry appletinis. Tonight I made manhattans with a hint of peach. I wonder if I can make a different cocktail every night I'm here?
6. Tomorrow is my birthday. I have no plans. Not sure what I'm going to do, but I'm sure it will be lovely.
7. I spent today reading newspapers in the sun while I sipped a couple cups of coffee, then I showered and strolled the 20 minutes to town for a little look around and another cup of coffee in the sun. People here obviously haven't had an American in these parts for awhile. They were quite curious about what brought me to their little town and what I think of England. I got big laughs when they'd ask me where I was from and I'd say Milton Keynes (it's renowned as an "American" style city, except with chavs. I was even wearing a hoodie.)
8. What since big sunglasses are all the fashion these days, I bought me some monsters at TK Maxx the other day. (Yes, it's like TJ Maxx except here.) They're Marc Jacobs. They're silver with purple gradient lenses. Depending upon my mood, I either feel extremely glamorous or like a giant bug. And the giant case takes up too much space in my purse. But MY am I the height of cool.
9. I don't really care for the v-neck sweater on men. It's the new hip thing to wear a v-neck sweater over a v-neck t-shirt, which gives us all a nice little glance at the chest hair and a figure hugging look at the pecks and abs of the wearer, as well. It seems very International Male to me. I will say, though, it's worse when they don't wear the t-shirt. I'm not a fan of the look. Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against a bit of chest hair. But this particular look annoys me.
10. I'm glad I don't have a perm.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Saturday night in Milton Keynes smells like Lynx and meadow fresh feminine hygiene products


Oh my. Even on a windy evening with hundreds of people smoking in the night air, the five minute walk from a restaurant to my hotel gave me a headache from the cheap cologne. I have never, ever smelled such a melange of buck-two-eighty pheromone scents in my life.

I wonder if they actually work? You'd think they'd eventually cancel each other out and everyone would just end up confused. Not to mention nauseated.

Or perhaps this explains the nonsensical fighting in the streets.

Profanity

I apologize if you haven't seen my little UK visit in your site meter lately. For the last few weeks my primary (and only) blog access has been at work.

And let's face it. Some of you people swear an awful lot. Which is fine, unless the internet police are looking for dodgy sites accessed during working hours. In fact, one of you got me a little warning on my second to last day.

Thanks, Chris.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Snobs

A liberal "think tank" here in the UK has asked for the banning of the word "chav" from pop parlance. They say it shows extreme loathing for the working class.

Personally, I think their recommendation shows extreme loathing for the working class. Certainly they are correct that being called a chav is seldom seen or meant as a compliment. But not all working class people are chavs. Chavs are showy, loud and drunk, and they are proud of their ignorance and readily display their bad manners and lack of common sense to anyone in their immediate vicinity. They are the English equivalent of trailer trash. And like trailer trash, they are a unique breed - not a complete representation of those from blue collar backgrounds.

By suggesting that chav is equivalent to working class, the think tank seems to be saying that they think anyone without money, education or position is a loud, obnoxious boor in track bottoms and too-tight-trousers covered cheap cologne and lots of fake jewelry. Talk about an insult.

Oh, how the mighty







VS.



How sad to go from beloved wacky sidekick to creepy boob-staring candidate for Bub's Weenie-Waver Wedensday?

I guess with a name like Andy Dick he never really had a chance.

Personally, I never did like the cut of his jib.

He and Molly Shannon should never be allowed near each other for the good of humanity.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Inner conflict, vol. 2

Point: I will not miss, not even a little bit, the toilets in restaurants in the UK. In the winter they are not heated, and you risk freezing your butt to the toilet. They are often up stairs or in far off areas of the building, and it can be a major effort to hike to the loo. I once went to a little french place with my friends Susan and Patricia that required you go up stairs, down a hallway, across a catwalk and then up a few more steps to get to the ladies. And while the trek certainly works off calories, woe be to anyone who drinks a bit to much wine and needs to take a wee. Especially if they've worn taller shoes than usual.

Counterpoint: I love gastropubs. They're often in picturesque settings and they have delightfully varied menus and often have nibbles and bits that can make for a perfect convivial evening of grazing and sipping wine and talking smart. They serve you reasonable servings of food (not gargantuan ones that could feed a family of four) and the food is delicious. There is a comfortable ease to gastropubs that you don't find as easily in the US.

They stole my line

My family has a tendency to absent-mindedly eat, or to eat with reckless abandon and passionate fervor - be it out of stress, joy, pain, nervousness, celebration or even boredom, when you're hanging with my family, at some point a little snack like a snitched pickle or olive turns into a strap-on-the-feedbag gnoshfest that will make outsiders fear for their lives (or at least limbs.) And it isn't just a genetic trait. We seem to gravitate towards like-minded ubersnackers - my sister-in-law is like this, Tom is like this, and virtually all friends close enough to attend a function in the inner sanctum exhibit this trait. (And don't you all get pious on me. Take a look at the size of your asses and then tell me you don't mindlessly snack on occasion.)

When my dad was in hospice last year, Tom was making margaritas and we were eating a perfectly healthy meal. And then about an hour after dinner I decided that I wanted a nibble. Which turned into cheese and crackers. Which turned into two boxes of triscuits and two blocks of cheese, plus some garlic stuffed olives and dill pickles being inhaled by my brother/sister-in-law/nephews/mother/Tom/the Poodle/me. The next day, when dad had had a fitful night and we were all a bit panicked, the food came out again and I proclaimed, "Let the horking begin!" Horking was a made up word. Something that just came out of my mouth. It's become a family joke, and I made t-shirts for my nephews last Christmas that have the family phrase across the chest. We thought it was an inside joke. And the people at Neighborhoodies hadn't heard of it. Two people asked me what it meant.

And now it's in the Wiktionary. And they use the word in Ratatouille. And in the Urban Dictionary they claim it means to snort a lot of cocaine, which is so not correct.

I should have gotten a copyright on it. The rat bastards.

Inner conflict, vol. 1

Point: I will not miss the stuff that passes for pizza in the UK. The crust is often the correct combo of chewy crispness, but the sauce they use is miserable. It's like they open a can of chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce and use it with no seasoning, not even salt and pepper. I like me a zesty, herby kick. It ruins the whole thing for me. It is also traditional to eat the pizza with a knife and fork. No slices. Everyone orders their own 9" pizza, and you cut it like a steak. At the very least, I like to eat a triangular slice with my hands. Even better if it's tiny little squares, allowing one to hoover vast quantities of pizza without the guilt of knowing how much you've eaten. (That is obviously a deep-rooted value established through constant exposure to Mabe's as a child.) Nope. Pizza in the UK is just so so. And I'm moving to CHICAGO, where they have a whole style of pizza named after them. Rock on.

Counterpoint: I will miss the chocolates. Even cheap chocolate is good here. Don't get me wrong. I know there are exceptional chocolates available in the US. Certainly there is merit in a dark chocolate bar spiced with bits of cayenne made by a small local chocalatier. But sometimes you want mass produced deliciousness in quantity, and Cadbury makes Russell Stover and Whitman's look like by-products from a child's plastic kitchen set.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In defense of Mamma Mia

Many critics in the UK are panning Mamma Mia. They are saying that it's over the top and silly and completely falls flat.

I disagree. Whole-heartedly, by the way.

Let's get one thing straight. The musical was never about good dialogue and strong acting. It was a story of stilted dialogue and silliness intended to help move from one Abba song to another. It never had the complexity of Wicked or the subversiveness of Avenue Q or the social commentary of Rent. It didn't even have the depth you find in an Oscar and Hammerstein or Lerner/Lowe classic. It was, is, and always will be High School Musical with middle aged protagonists. While we have all seen more intense, nuanced and dramatic performances from the actors involved, this is not Sophie's Choice or Pride and Prejudice. Or even Cybil. This is an all singing, all dancing tribute to one of the best pop bands ever, and I think they all delivered a funny, sing-along performance that deserves commendation. In fact, I think Meryl Streep is amazing. Talk about range....she can go from dingoes eating her baby and holocaust horror to being a fiendish fashion editor and a hippie mom who makes vibrator jokes and a voice that can even tackle The Winner Takes It All. Now THAT is talent.

So quit your high-brow griping and let it be exactly what it is. A great way to wile away some time on a summer's evening.

The week in review

1. Have consolidated all belongings into shippable and packed for carrying. My return ticket is booked for August 19th, and on the 31st they pick up my belongings.
2. I am vagabonding from place to place, never staying anyplace more than three or four nights so as not to outstay my welcome. This is a pain in the ass, FYI.
3. On Friday, 1330 kids under my direction broke the world record for the Longest Game of Chinese Whispers. We go in the book, unless someone else does it before publication.
4. We've also raised £120,000 for charity, which is not the official total since we're still raising money.
5. Next Friday, I become an unemployed slacker for the foreseeable future. Haven't done that since February 1998. It is both terrifying and exciting.
6. Big moves make me wish I wasn't such a people person. Once I make the decision to move on, the regrets always revolve around missing people, and they have kicked in once again. I'm still moving to Chicago, but now that the wheels are in motion I am both excited to get home to my friends and family in the US and weepy at the thought of leaving the ones here.
7. I never thought I'd get to the stage where I craved settling down so much. Not the whole spouse/kids kind of settling down. I just want to sit on my sofa again, which is exceptionally comfortable and currently being wasted in a storage crate in Eden Prairie. And I want to unpack my stuff and not go anywhere for awhile. I long to be comfortable. Adventure and seeking one's fortune is great, but it is never "comfortable". And that's never bugged me before, but it is now.
8. One of the things I am most looking forward to is going out to dinner with my brother and my youngest nephew the night after I get back to the states. By sheer coincidence, Bob and Nick are in Chicago on a baseball pilgrimage at the same time I'm arriving, and so I step right in to one of the perks of moving to the midwest. Proximity to family. I always enjoy spending time with my brother and his family, and it will be especially fun to see Nick in the midst of a baseball tour - he is a complete geek for all things baseball, and he's on the local Little League all-star team this summer so I'm sure he will have many extremely dramatic tales to tell of saves at the plate and strike outs. Nick is a spinner of tall tales, bless him. He's also the nephew most fascinated by the travelling I do and the urban life I have in contrast to his family's suburban one...he's been fascinated by cities for as long as I can remember, and unless his teenage years are squeezing all the enthusiasm out of him, he will think it's pretty awesome to be visiting me in my new home. Which will make him spazzy and animated even if he IS trying to be cool, which always makes me laugh hard.
9. I'm at a little coffee shop, and a girl just walked past wearing shorts that were so short they looked like denim underpants, or maybe those little denim diaper covers that moms buy their babies to make it look like they're wearing designer jeans. To her credit, though, they did not have a cheek hanging out of the bottom like many of the hotpants wearers do these days.
10. The first thing I'm buying when I get my first paycheck in the US is a Wii system with Wii Fit, Rock Band and Guitar Hero.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Sheesh, you people sure ask a lot of questions

11. There's NOTHING wrong with the Twin Cities. They're great. And I love you people who live there. The thing is, in theory living in the Twin Cities is a good idea. For me, though, in practice it isn't a good thing. I'm not happy there, even though there are many things I like about the place. So I'm electing to live within striking distance of regular weekend visits.
12. Yes, more fat people is definitely one of the pluses of moving to the Midwest.
13. No, I haven't considered moving back to Decorah. Whilst it is a pretty town with an excellent natural food coop, a thriving farmer's market and numerous high-calibre restaurants, I prefer to live in places with international airports, less parking and more crime. Even the Culver's won't sway me.
14. Of COURSE I'll come to Minneapolis to see the Little House on the Prairie musical. What kind of stupid question is that?
15. I appreciate the offer, but I'm not leaving the UK because I'm not married so it isn't really a solution to anything. Or perhaps you're asking me so you can get a green card and move stateside as well? Which is illegal, so the answer is still no. But I appreciate the gesture.
16. I suppose that, if I got the best job offer ever someplace else, I might consider someplace other than Chicago. But for now the mind is firmly made up.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Answers to questions from Wednesday's #10

1. No, I have not gotten a job in Chicago. I just decided that while I'm looking, I might as well use this opportunity to settle somewhere for awhile. And Chicago seems like a good place. I hear they have hot dogs AND pizza.
2. Yes, I do love London, and would have been very happy staying here. But ultimately, getting a fancy job in the UK and making a bunch of money and living in London isn't really moving forward, it's extending this period of my life. If I wanted to live here forever I'd do it, but since I want to come back to the US eventually it just seems like postponing to wait a year or two. So here I go. Keeping on the edge so I don't take up too much room.
3. Yes, I WILL miss the UK. A lot. I have made some phenomenal friends here. Really fine people. You'll like them. But there are lots of flights to and from Chicago. Like 20 non-stops from LHR a day or something. So I'll still see them. I mean, I've managed four years away from all of you. Now it's their turn.
4. Other than the people, I think I'll miss walking along South Bank. It has great views of landmarks, an excellent book market under Waterloo Bridge, lot of great people watching and some fine cafes. I'll miss Robinson's Fruit & Barley with no sugar added. I'll miss PG Tips, and I'll miss the BBC. Marmite, not so much.
5. I won't miss the weird electricity, driving on the left side of the road or YOBs.
6. I'll visit you in MSP but for me it's not really a good place, so, no, I'm not moving to the Twin Cities. And you can quote me on that.
7. You're totally welcome to visit as soon as I'm settled, but that will probably be at least this fall. I'm going to sleep on my friend Bethany's couch until I find a job, and then we'll be getting a place with plenty of space for guests. Once we're there, you're more than welcome.
8. I think I'm most looking forward to having a big midwestern apartment with good closet space, spending time with my family and just relaxing with all of you. And getting to know a new city. I like exploring and finding cool things about new places that I'm calling home. And I've been hoping to meet the Bubses for years now, so once I'm settled I'm asking them out.
9. Yes, The Special People Club will remain - though this started as a way to keep friends and family posted about things in my life when I moved to the UK, it has become something else now. Plus there are still friends and family to keep updated who live far away.
10. No, I haven't considered taking The Club to the next level and becoming a professional blogger, but it's nice of you to ask. The Special People Club is exclusive. We wouldn't want to let in the riff raff.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Fast 10 on Wednesday

1. I've moved. My things are in storage. My back is sore.
2. Last weekend in London I saw a family of gingers that justified the prejudice often shown them in the UK. Oh my, were they pale. And such vibrant orange hair. It was like looking at the Weasley's.
3. I think that advertising a care home for people with Alzheimer's and dementia with the slogan "Simply Unforgettable" is tacky.
4. I had a lovely Sunday evening with Timmy in the Big Smoke. We had a few cocktails before dinner, namely "White Ladies", which are a delicious nectar of gin, cointreau and lemon juice with a cherry in the bottom. They are shaken until frothy - I think there was a little egg white in there, too, because they practically have a meringue on the top. Beautiful and very tasty. But when you order them, it sounds better if you say "white LAdy" as opposed to "WHITE lady." The latter sounds like an order at the Chicken Ranch, not a swank bar in London.
5. There's a McVitties cake and biscuit factory near the tracks right as the train gets into Euston. On Sunday they were baking something that smelled like raspberry tartlets. It was divine, and made me crave a crumble.
6. Note to Grumpy McCain - the election is not, in fact, about trust. The election is about the economy, and the war, and the balance of the court and about 100 other really pressing issues. Trust is something entirely different. Trustworthiness is a quality one would like to have in a president, as are good judgement, intelligence, courage, kindness and sincerity. And I, for one, TRUST Barack Obama to do things the way I would like them done. You, on the other hand, will call me friend through that cheshire cat smile and don't know how to use the internet, which scares me.
7. No matter how many times McCain's people claim Gen. Wesley Clark was bad-mouthing or discrediting McCain's service, it doesn't make it so. If you actually READ what Clark said, he praised the Senator's service and personal sacrifice. He praised his character. What he questioned was whether valiant service equates to good judgement and wise foreign policy. And I agree with Gen. Clark...in Mr. McCain's case, I'm not so sure I've seen evidence that it does. Therefore running around claiming that your military service qualifies you to be Commander in Chief does not compute. I went to high school with a nice guy named Bill who joined the military, and I hear he did pretty well there. But he failed American Studies. Twice. I don't really think he's qualified to be president. (And don't sic your Truth Squad on me. I'm not claiming YOU failed American Studies. B*****man did.)
8. I also find it funny that Mr. McCain's "Truth Squad " (which sounds very Pol Pot to me, but never mind,) expressed their outrage at Gen. Clark's supposed discounting of McCain's service by immediately bad-mouthing Gen. Clark's. (And there's a few John Kerry swift boaters amongst them, as well.) So it seems that the rule is that military service means jack. You just can't say bad things about John McCain's.
9. FYI, if you don't have noodles on hand you can use pad thai seasoning/sauce to make a passable risotto, ,especially if you have shrimp and spring onions and some sprouts and a lime.
10. I have it on good authority that sometime in August there's going to be a new Chicago-land blogger in the family.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I hate chain mail

1. I hate chain mail. My friend Marina forwarded me this stupid Chinese proverb thing promising exceptional luck. Or not. I didn't forward it. I mean, those things suck.
2. The next day, I got a call from the woman I was going to move in with...the woman who was moving out had changed her mind indefinitely. So no room for me. Two nights before I was due to move in.
3. I've had some promising conversations with an alum about job hunting, and her offer of help got postponed...she's swamped, and it's going to take at least two weeks, maybe more, before she can even speak to me.
4. My work project got kind of mucked up. Not horribly so, but enough to be frustrating.
5. So I tried to think what it could be. And I remembered the chain mail. So I forwarded it on. We'll see how it pans out. I've made 20 people hate me for sending them an email of good or bad luck, but I DID warn them not to open the attachment lest they unleash the jinky.
6. By the way, I think chainmail looks uncomfortable, but I do not actually hate it.
7. I had a wonderful time with my friends Tim and Mark on Saturday. I spent the day looking at flats and then met them at 4 to hear them sing evensong. While I waited for them to change, the priest chatted me up. When they were ready, we went to the Soho hotel for cocktails and snacks before wandering into Chinatown for dinner. It was a lovely night, so we walked to Trafalgar Square, stopping for a pint along the way, and then ended up in the Trafalgar drinking bourbon cocktails and watching some very trampy girls climb all over their dates. Oh my, they were slutty. It was a live soft-core porn show. The management had to ask them to cool it. Very funny. When we had had our fill of drinks and heavy petting, we wandered down to South Bank for a picturesque stroll along the Thames by night. We got a solid midnight chime from Big Ben, then wandered back to their hotel, where we stayed up very late. I slept in a ball on the floor, giving one of Timmy's white t-shirts distinct boob stretch. The nice man from reception brought me a blanket, and I was actually quite comfortable, save for the blisters on my feet that had erupted from the miles and miles of walking. Got up early, grabbed a shame train back to MK I hate travelling on a Sunday morning in rumpled clothes and bedhead. Not that I do it a lot. Just sayin' it ain't fun, and the respectable people give you the skunk eye. It was a fabulous night out. I miss Timmy and Sparkdog. They rock.
8. At the train station I had to pee, and I went in a toilet that was so toxic from someone else's befouling that I could not breathe without retching. I don't know who was there before me, but there is seriously something very very wrong with them. I hope they get help.
9. Periodically, a very strange blistery sort of sore appears on my elbow. It hurts a lot, eventually scabs over, heals, and then a few weeks or even months later it reappears. I've often wondered about this, and then when I complained of it to the Boys the put forward a very logical explanation. Obviously, this is where the aliens put their probe.
10. I am unsettled. My future is uncertain. Expect something drastic from me.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Clarification

I've been informed by several of my UK readers that they thought the photo image to the left was actually me as a child.

Should you also be wondering this, let me clarify that that is not, in fact, me, but rather the image of Dawn Wiener from the classic dark comedy, Welcome to the Dollhouse.

While I certainly had my geeky stages and often demonstrated a strong sense of misguided fashion, Dawn does not look like me on the outside...she only represents how I felt on the inside.

If you are new to Melinda June, you can click on the label below for a visual tour of my youth.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Yesterday in London

1. When I got on the train, I sat by two East African Muslim women wearing burgandy-ish jilbabs that clashed with the hennaed orange tips of their fingers. One of them had a nubbin on her thumb that kind of looked like a tiny little extra thumb. It freaked me out a little bit.
2. A woman sitting across from me had the shiniest, whitest Chiclet teeth ever. And though she appeared to be in her twenties, I think they were actually ill-fitting plates because she couldn't seem to get her lips over them to stop the creepy smile.
3. At King's Cross, there was a family that took gender-specific coloration very seriously. The Mom and her two daughters were dressed entirely in pink and had pink roller luggage, the dad and the son were in blue with matching blue duffel bags. They were standing next to a kid dressed in beige. I've read Middlesex. It made me wonder.
4. I saw a short bald man on the tube with a massive bloody bandage on the back of his head. He was acting like it was any other day, like he hadn't a care in the world, nothing amiss. After standing next to him on a crowded train, I beg to differ.
5. I had many meetings, and then went to sit at a cafe off of Oxford Street to wait for my friend Yvonne. I enjoyed a very civilised glass of ice tea in the warm sunshine of a London afternoon. It was about 530pm and so I got quite the fashion parade while I waited. I observed the following:


  • Bubble skirts, short short dresses and belts are really in right now, often paired with leggings or footless tights. Sadly, though one in three women passing was sporting this look, one in 20 of them should have been.
  • Belts are also big literally.
  • 90% of the people walking past me were slaves to current fashion trends, but they were either not coming from work or they don't really understand what constitutes appropriate office attire.
  • Many women wear ill-fitting or impractical shoes that make it impossible for them to walk.
  • Tom would have hated all the flip flops.
  • Bangs (or "fringe", as they call them called here) are on the cutting edge of hair

6. Lots of people must have unprotected sex on New Year's Eve.
7. I killed some time reading the London Paper. They were interviewing P Diddy, and they asked him if he loves the Beckhams. He told them that he loves hanging out with David now that he's in LA, that Beckham is a great guy and even gave his son a football lesson. So then they asked if he and Victoria talk about their clothing lines a lot. He said that he has a lot of respect for how driven she is. If I were a gossip columnist, I'd take this to mean that Sean John no likey V. Beckham.
8. A woman asked me if I could spare a minute for charity. I laughed, and told her I'd given them about 18 hours a day for the last month so no, I couldn't really. I think she was puzzled.
9. On the way back to Euston, I was behind a monk in a plain brown hooded robe with a rope belt. He had on teva sandals. I wanted to ask him many questions. What kind of monk was he? Can he talk or is in a vow of silence? And if he's in a vow of silence, does it count when he's out in the world, not the abbey? Is his monk name different than his birth name? And if it is, how did he decide what he would be called? Are their monks named Colton or Brandon? Did he HAVE to wear sandals, or was that just the choice he made this morning? Does he make ale? Who's his favourite saint? What does a monk do for fun on a sunny day in London? How many monks does it take to screw in a lightbulb? So many questions. They were just flying into my brain, I tell you. Ever the polite one, I kept them all inside it. But it killed me.
10. In the UK, they spell "percent" "per cent". It drives me crazy.