Sunday, April 27, 2008

It's A Bit Parky

She looks cute, but she's actually frozen solid.

One of the first things people ask when you return from a trip to the UK is 'how was the weather?'. I usually reply, 'there was plenty of it'.

California doesn't have weather, it has a climate. Not so the north of England!! What a difference a few weeks make. Last year we went home in early May, and England was at her sun-dappled green and leafy best. This time we went home and the phrase 'it's grim oop North' certainly seemed more appropriate. You know how people returning from Las Vegas always say 'but it's a dry heat'. Well in North Yorkshire 'it's a damp cold'. A malevolent cold that penetrates your core and refuses to leave, like someone's stuck a wet facecloth down your woollens never to be seen again. If you leave a damp towel on the floor it will not dry over time, in fact it will suck up more moisture, like a giant clammy sponge. It took me two weeks to remember to leave our towels over the radiators, and then it was time to leave. I think Anna first realized she wasn't in Kansas anymore when she sat on her first UK toilet seat and said 'Mummy, my butt is cold!'. British bums are made of sterner stuff.

I'll be the first to admit that my memories of the weather in North Yorkshire have become a little hazy with time. I didn't bring capri trousers in my suitcase like I did last year. *Moron*. The phrase 'ne'er cast a clout til May is out' is time-worn for a reason. You know that facial expression when somebody first dips a delicate toe into the frigid Californian Pacific? That was our facial expression for the entire trip. I began to rethink that halter-neck dress I'd bought for my brother's wedding, and started wondering if I could fashion a pashmina out of a goose-down duvet (tasteful darling, but I can't walk through doors).

Surprisingly LK loves British weather. He works outdoors, so the chance to escape the never-ending sun is a real holiday for him. I was worried about Anna though, whether her delicate Californian constitution would hold up to the wuthering of THE NORTH. I couldn't have been more wrong, because Anna had arrived in the Land of Puddles and was having the time of her life. It took us fifteen minutes to go a hundred yards, but hey, she was happy. This is 'stock footage' of her reveling in a puddle after a brief rainstorm in SB in February. See how happy?

She even got to make a snowball, and was so thrilled with the idea that she asks me at least once a day since we got back if it's snowing. Err, no, it's not snowing, it's 97ยบ in the shade sweet-pea. That's why Mummy's blogging with no clothes on (apologies for that visual).

Basically it didn't rain that much, it just looked like it was going to all the time. It would go from hail to sleet to rain to sun then back to hail in a dizzying five minutes that would have us racing to the washing line four times an hour to retrieve the laundry.

People hang their washing out to dry in England, always have done. If anything embodies a spirit of absurd optimism in the face of reality, it's hanging your washing out to dry in North Yorkshire. Now it's the cool and eco-friendly thing to do of course, but it's mainly done out of thrift. I once asked some friends in SB why nobody does that here. I mean it seems far more sensible to hang your washing out in California, land of perma-sun, than in Manchester, every Atlantic raindrop's first port of call. Someone replied 'oh, we have tumble dryers here'. Ah yes thankyou! The industrial revolution. We Brits must get on that. I think thriftiness/tightness has to be the only answer because there is nothing as soul-destroying as hanging cold, wet washing out under a leaden sky.(For the record my Mum and Dad do have a tumble dryer, used for monsoon-like conditions). But why don't people hang their clothes out to dry in the States? Are you embarrassed people will think you can't afford a tumble dryer? Is it laziness? My excuse it that I'd be worried our tenants would nick our clothes, but we don't all live in ghettos. What's your excuse?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Tag You're It

I've been tagged on a meme by the ever inspirational Almost American. I mean, what's not to love about someone who posts things like this?

It's always nice to be tagged (particularly if you're still feeling some post-vacation lethargy and are about as inspired as a Wet Wednesday in Wetherby). To be honest though, the real clincher was the first question, as you will see:

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?
I always think the word 'apropos' is used by ponces, or as my friend Sue would say, 'nobbers', but damn if this question wasn't, well apropos darling. While I was back home cleaning out any evidence of my existence from my former bedroom (Hi Mum!) - I came across a letter I'd written to my parents in April 1998.

Before reading the letter I would have said that 10 years ago I was newly married, had just emigrated to the US, was dealing with immigration, not able to work, out of my gourd with boredom, and coming to terms with the fact that bravery does not come with the act of moving to a new country, it comes with living with that decision. I remember with absolute clarity the first time I realised (in 1998) that I was only ever going back to England for a couple of weeks every other year, for the foreseeable future. The homesickness was desperate and overwhelming.

LK remembers it like this:

LK: Can you pass the salt?
Me: *Sob* They have salt in England! (followed by 10 hours of foetal position wailing).

As you can imagine, when I found the letter I was pretty interested to see if AliBlahBlah circa 1998 felt the same way:

It begins, 'Today is officially the last day of my 3-month visa waiver, so as from tomorrow, just to make my immigration situation more interesting, I'll be carrying round an expired visa in my passport'.
Then I mention the fact that I probably wouldn't be able to go to my oldest friend's wedding that May because of immigration, and my need to get 'Advance Parole' in order to leave the country. (In the end it did not arrive in time and I did not make it to my friend's wedding because they sent paperwork for 'political asylum and establishment of refugee status' because the INS are absolute morons.)

Towards the end I wrote 'sometimes I get the distinct impression that I'm not doing justice to my life and that I could be getting an awful lot more done' - don't I sound the doe-eyed bride?! My parents must have been so reassured and happy. Clearly things have not changed much in 10 years, although I am slightly more reconciled to my underachieving.

and the piece de resistance, I wrote that our friend Mooks had just been round to set us up with 'our very first e-mail address'. I remember it being completely useless for months as no-one in the UK had one, but hey - that was progress 10 years ago!

Anyway, on with the meme:

2. 5 snacks I enjoy:
Salt and vinegar hula hoops
Guacamole and chips (and margaritas)
Jalapeno Cheetos
Sourdough bread & butter

3.Things I would do if I was a billionaire:
Buy a small one-bedroom fixer-upper in Santa Barbara.
Ha, oh ha ha ha.

4. 5 jobs I've had:
Production Studio Assistant - where I met REAL STARS (well, Jeff Bridges).
Exam Board Mark Checker - I actually stapled my thumb out of boredom.
Paper-girl - I earned about £1.35/hr as each drive was about .5 miles long in poncey Harrogate.
Receptionist - I still have nightmares
Medical Practice Manager - I'm living the nightmare (only joking).

5. 3 bad habits:
Situational alcoholism
Looking for split ends in my hair

6. 5 places I've lived:
Carpinteria, CA
Santa Barbara, CA

I know, I've hardly been slumming it have I?

7. 5 people I want to know more about:

Or else why would I blog?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Sounds Painful

Anna, last night while we're all fighting to stay awake until 8pm Pacific Time:

"Momma, I need a band-aid."
"You do?"
"Yep I do. A big one. I have an owie." *pained expression*
"Really, where?"
"Right here" - rolls up trouser leg and points to pristine chubby flesh
"Huh, I can't see anything, does it really hurt?"
"Yep it does. I have jet-leg".

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It Was The Best of Times...It Was The Worst of Times

I know, where the bloody hell have I been?


I went home, and I didn't tell you did I? Not even a Dear John letter. We went home to weddings, snow, sideways sleet and hail and we loved every minute of it.

Now I'm back and curiously not as terrified as I thought I would be. We have some rather worrying times ahead (in American, read 'scary-ass-shit') - things that would make a grown woman cry - and frequently have -, and this vacation was rather like landing in the eye of a hurricane. Major crapola flying all around while I enjoyed endless cups of tea and Anna stalwartly refused to pick up a British accent. I had thought that I'd be on the plane coming back to the States as someone mounting the steps to the guillotine, but I feel oddly calm.

Maybe that's why going on holiday is such a good idea. Maybe I just needed a little break, a little time, a little perspective. Genius!

I suddenly feel like I can cope, at least in the short-term. Of course right now I'm horrendously jet-lagged and walking around high as a kite on fatigue and caffeine, so my perception of reality may be a tad skewed. I have already driven on the wrong side of the road twice since we arrived back on Saturday night. ­ The first time I made a comically exaggerated right hand turn into oncoming traffic until I realised what the chuff I was doing and veered back in to the correct lane. Good times.

I'm sure if you ask LK about my newfound sense of inner peace he'd raise an eyebrow about a foot in the air and point out that I freaked out on the plane flying back from Manchester. Justifiably I would say though. There was another plane at the same altitude as us, and we were nowhere near an airport. I saw it out of the corner of my eye, and thought, hmm, that's odd you never see planes flying parallel, and especially not that close. Hmm, quite close really. Yes, gosh, really quite close now. Holy fucking shit, it was getting closer, and closer, and I was trying really hard not to watch it, but damn if I couldn't see it clearly enough to register that it was another United flight, and how many windows it had, and Jesus bloody Christ do planes have blind-spots because what the hell is our pilot trying to do, play chicken? An instant later we were flying through it's jet-trail and LK peeled me off the ceiling.

At least I didn't projectile vomit upon landing, like Anna, but hey, Chicago can have that effect on some people.

So yes, calm and collected that's me. We'll see how long that lasts.