Archive for September 2007

Now go grab a jug of sangria and celebrate!

Friday, 28th September 2007. Filed in Random foliage2 Comments »

Mom and me

Happy retirement, Mom!

I could have brought the kitchen sink

Monday, 24th September 2007. Filed in Random foliage5 Comments »

A clear-out of the medicine cabinet yields:

1. Benadryl Itch Stopping Gel- exp 02/2003. Yes folks, that’s over a year before I even moved to England. I call this 4 fl oz (it’s nearly full) of wasted suitcase space.
2. Cortizone 10 Anti-Itch Creme- exp 07/2004. Yep, another one expired before the big migration.
3. Original Neosporin- exp 10/2003. Do you see a pattern?
4. Neosporin Plus Pain Relief- exp 05/99. Yes, that’s right, pre-Y2K. I ought to save this for a museum or something.
5. Boots Antiseptic Cream- exp 06/2005
6. Vicks Sinex Decongestant Nasal Spray- exp 11/2006
7. Bausch and Lomb Sensitive Eyes rewetting drops- exp 08/2005
8. Visine A Antihistamine and redness relieving drops- exp 11/2005
9. E45 Itch Relief Creme- exp 02/2007
10. Olay Complete (unopened)- exp 12/2006

You would never in a million years have guessed I used to work in pharmaceuticals, would you? (Which, before the jokes and concerned queries come flooding in, is where I got most of the anti-itch stuff as free samples.)

Now, onto the refrigerator!

The only baggage you can bring is all that you can’t leave behind

Thursday, 20th September 2007. Filed in Brit-ification5 Comments »

You have to come pick me up. I know it’s an expensive pick up, but as much as I love you, you’ll want to make sure I actually get on the plane. You might have to push me through the gate ticket check. And peel my fingers from the door frame so the plane can depart.

Plus, I need your luggage allowance. I’ve got a lot of stuff.

Three years ago today, one of my lifelong girlfriends left me, Crunchy husband (who was then Crunchy boyfriend without the Crunchy because the concept hadn’t really gelled yet), and 128 kgs of my possessions (minus however much the 3 pairs of underwear I allowed Crunchy man to bring on his way out) on the curb at SFO. I’d been crying for weeks on end, getting ready for the big departure, but then my body never seems empty of tears at emotional times.

I was leaving home. Further than I ever imagined I’d leave home. It beat out my two-hour drive from home for four years of college by 8 time zones, fluctuating but never cheap and usually overpriced plane tickets, a very large continent and a massive body of water. I was pretty sad. That might be an understatement. That might be another one. But, hey it was an adventure, right? (And after 2 1/2 years of a transatlantic relationship, it was time!)

Woo-eee, did I underestimate the road that lay ahead. I don’t think I quite understood the depth emotional isolation and loneliness could take until I moved here. Which is not to say that the people I met in London initially are not all kind and interesting people. We just never meshed. Or, maybe it’s better to say I never meshed. I think when I first felt I might be “scaring” people, I pulled back. Having been fairly extroverted my whole life (another understatement?), I don’t think I knew how to play by those rules. How do you be reserved and sociable at the same time? (I still don’t know.) I adjusted too far in the opposite direction. I became introverted and socially anxious. To me, everything I said sounded garbled and incomprehensible. Temporary relief (in the form of denial) came on weekends when I could train it up to West Yorkshire and be with the Crunchy man. But, I subsisted in a haze of social and academic dread, poor confidence and low self-esteem. Dear god, it makes me cringe just thinking about it. It’s probably how high school could have been if I didn’t have an amazing group of girlfriends and supportive parents.

I felt completely alienated from myself. I missed the old me, and wanted that person back, but I didn’t know how to return. Which is to say, I didn’t know how I could bring myself to get there. When you’re down, sometimes it’s really hard to do the things you need to do to pop back up and get your game on. Or, at least to do them as quickly as you should.

First year done, and I moved again. Me and the Crunchy fiancĂ© were going to be together, not only in the same timezone but in the same location, for the first time in nearly 4 years! I have to say though, my memories of the Saltaire ‘hood are swathed in wedding preparations, visa stress, and well, looking forward to going home for Christmas. Except– for the sheer delight it gives Crunchy husband to say its name– who can forget Fanny’s Ale House? And the hills. I miss the hills. And runs along the canal.

We didn’t remain in West Yorkshire for very long, especially not me since for a good part of that period I was back in California waiting for the Brits to cash my check and let me back in. We moved to Kent in the spring of 2006. Overall, I have to say I am happiest here. The first year rivaled London’s isolation, but it’s gotten much better for many reasons, some explicable others more underlying and subtle.

I have learned to live without Noah’s bagels, Jamba Juice and chimichangas from Tlaquepaque. I’ve learned to be sparing with the pancake mix, peanut butter and tea I bring back from the US. (Thanks to the internet, I haven’t had to learn to live without my KFOG. Sometimes I pop on the morning show while I cook dinner.) But, when it comes to being over 5,000 miles away from the majority of the people I love, some days are better than others. I don’t think I will ever fully learn to live without my ‘rocks’. And I don’t want to become the person who can. There are some things that just can’t be left behind.

I stand here today a different person than I was even 6 months ago. I lost the spirit that warms and fills the shell for a long time. I existed outside, beside, underneath but never deep down inside myself. But, I feel like I am rediscovering me and getting my smile, my laugh, my life back. I feel like I have two homes.

Thank you, Crunchy husband. Thank you for understanding. And caring. And being patient. And being prepared to spend most of your 25 1/2 vacation days a year in California. Thank you for supporting me, believing me, and loving me even when I couldn’t support, believe in, and love myself.

—————-
Now playing: U2 – Walk On
via FoxyTunes

I love it when you call…

Tuesday, 18th September 2007. Filed in Random foliage1 Comment »

It’s official. I want an iPhone. I don’t need an iPhone. I can’t justify the money spent for an iPhone. But, I just wanted to make an official announcement that Apple has sucked me into the world where I might be more sympathetic to cell phones. And maybe hear mine and answer it once and a while. (But, you two people out there who call me, don’t cross your fingers.)

What, you may ask, prompted this shift in being ambivalent to/slightly annoyed by cell phones (or the rude people who speak on them while ordering lunch at restaurants) to oh my god, I neeeeed one?

I am currently looping my 30 second “Causing a Commotion” ringtone. I’ve got the moves, baby. You’ve got the motion. If we got together, we’d be causing a commotion…

I’d hear my phone every time it rang. Nice!*

*Bastards! I looked through my iTunes tracks marked with a bell for “ringtone” and there weren’t actually that many. Which surprised me. But, not for long. I figured it out. And it doesn’t surprise me. You can only make a ringtone from your library of songs if you’ve already purchased that ringtone eligible track from iTunes. (So really, to get a ringtone it’s $0.99 for the song and another $0.99 for the tone, regardless of whether the song is already in your library by other means.) Clever, Apple, clever.

Cheese, Grommit?

Tuesday, 18th September 2007. Filed in Random foliage4 Comments »

We’ve been driving south quit a bit lately. Sometimes not due south, but southerly. So, this weekend, in a break from habit, we drove north. Really north. Not as north as you can go. I haven’t yet done that. But, pretty north for a weekend excursion. We packed up the car with a fully charged ipod, some ‘nanas, lots of chocolate and hit the road to visit friends in Yorkshire.

The weekend started just east of York. We stayed with some friends Friday night, and then went out to the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham on Saturday on the way to West Yorkshire. Masham is a nice place. I’d go there again. We had an hour before our tour at the brewery and free beer so we ventured out to get some grub. The Suncatcher Cafe in the village square caught my eye. Inside, it was a bit of a mash up between Berkeley, Pacific Northwest and Polynesian decor. I liked it. Very colorful. And they served Chai lattes. Now, it’s not as if I am a huge chai latte fan. I could take one or leave one. But the very fact that they were offering them was a surprise. I am not sure they do chai lattes in England. So, I had to get one. Simply because I could. (It was good!) The cafe also served Wensleydale cheese and hot apple chutney paninis. So, there wasn’t much deciding to be done there either!

Cheese, Grommit?

On Sunday, we took a drive down memory lane. We drove past the house where Crunchy husband and I lived together for the first time. It’s for sale. All I can wonder is if they’ve redone the bathrooms. I spent six months (okay, maybe not that long, there was a long period where I was waiting in California for my visa) running up and down the basement stairs to take my showers. There is something just more than a little bit creepy about taking a shower in a dark basement. One has to hope they put a shower into the my little pony disco party bathroom. And maybe redecorated that bathroom a bit more tastefully. At an asking price of 184,500 GBP, one can only hope!

It was interesting to note that neither of us felt much nostalgia at not living there (neither the house, nor the area) anymore. I wasn’t there long enough to get attached, and Crunchy husband doesn’t really feel like he ever settled in his four years in Saltaire. I think we’d both feel differently if the architecture wasn’t so dreary, and it was closer to the ocean, as we both love the hills. But, the architecture is and it’s nowhere near the sea. So I am happy where we are.

PS- I forgot about the jelly bellies and Arizona iced tea. “New from America.” That cracked me up! New to you, maybe…

Feeling the need to say hello, but apparently not much else

Monday, 17th September 2007. Filed in Random foliage1 Comment »

Hi!

I love yoga relaxation time

Wednesday, 12th September 2007. Filed in In my head, I'm an awesome dancer3 Comments »

As I lay on the mat, snuggling into the warmth of my sweatshirt and my cozy polar fleece socks, I close my eyes and begin to lose the room around me. I stretch my spine long, roll my shoulders down and feel the core of my body begin to sink into the floor. Soon it is just me and my breath, constructing an image of a favorite place, piece by piece, pixel by pixel, until I can see where I want to be.

The space in my head feels wide, the vast expanse of ocean all around me. There is no breeze, but the air is fresh and nourishing. It continues to flow deeply through my lungs and into my calves, my toes, my wrists, my hair, my heart. With each exhalation, comes release. My body sinks further into the safety of peaceful surrender.

I step inside. I begin to dance over the gentle waves. Slow, graceful leaps, brushes suspended in air. My arms wrap around my body and then slowly unfurl, extending over my head, stretching wide. The sunlight is warm and welcoming. Golden threads glimmer around my fluid body as I slowly lift my chin to the sky.

I feel free.

I take race day WAY too seriously

Saturday, 8th September 2007. Filed in I am a goofball, Race reports8 Comments »

See?
100_4614

Way too seriously!

Today, Crunchy husband and I hauled it to the Bedgebury Pinetum for the Great Forest 10k run. It was a great run in a great forest (we like Bedgebury and Go APE!). Hilly, but fun. (Now, why I didn’t really consider the whole course would be hills, I don’t know. We’ve hiked and mountain biked around the pinetum, so that was just me not thinking.) The hills were good though, I think they will help us in our Paris race at the end of the month and they rolled really nicely, actually.

At the start blast, Crunchy husband shot off like a rocket. I was going to yell coach-y things to him like, “buddy, you’re starting way too fast, you’ll want some in the tank for kilometers 9 and 10″ but then I thought “hey, this is his first 10k race. Let him learn these things for himself.” Plus, I was too lazy so I just let him go. I caught up a minute or so later and that’s, I think, when he realized he started too quickly. Or, when he decided it would be much more pleasant to stick it out in the “expensive seats” for the rest of the race. One of the two, or maybe both. If there had been wind (no double entendre intended), I would have had to charge him a drafting fee as well as the viewing fee. (He did well, did he not?! Congrats to my Crunchy husband, Crunchy boy, Crunchy tractorboy, whatever you’d like to be called!)

Race stats (based on watch times):

Nora
Time: 53:57
Pace: 8:41 min/mile

Crunchy boy
Time: 54:16
Pace: 8:44 min/mile

The Big Sur half is calling me from afar

Wednesday, 5th September 2007. Filed in Running4 Comments »

The nip has returned. It is subtle, but detectable. The sun is out, but there is a hint of autumn in the air and in the trees. It is being decent, I have to give it that. It’s not taunting me for blinking during summer’s brief appearance. (I’m still waiting hopefully for summer, in terms of a season and not a week. I think it’s going to be a long wait, like 10 months. Or more.) In fact, they are saying it’s going to be 24 C today. But, I think fall is pretty much ready to barge down the door and stay for dinner. We’re having pasta.

But, I am not sad. Why? Why you ask? What could possibly keep the smile on my face as cooler weather creeps into my life? Cheap airfare and tickets in hand. I’m going home!! Okay, not today, not tomorrow, not even next month. But the month after that. AND the month after that.

I will be staying in California for much longer than the last visit. I learned my lesson in May. Five days? Not enough time. (If you’re reading this, thinking, “um, you were home in May?” please be assured that I am still wracked with guilt about not being able to see everyone I missed on the last brief touchdown and am looking forward to seeing you this fall!)

And in one more sign that I have definitely caught the bug, the first thing I did (after calling my parents to let them know, and eating dinner, and emailing some friends, and sleeping, and eating breakfast the next morning, but the first thing I did after all that!) was check active for runs in California in November. Now, what better way to celebrate World Run Day than to go down to Monterey for the Big Sur half marathon? I’ve never done it, and I thought for sure it would be full by now, but it’s not (the website says the half is 71% full). And I hear it calling to me, singing across the United States, breast-stroking across the Atlantic and surfing up the Channel, persuading, “come run me!”

I think I should abide its wishes. Anyone else?

I can do anything if I put my mind to it

Sunday, 2nd September 2007. Filed in Random foliage2 Comments »

On Saturday morning, in an unprecedented act of personal restraint, I journeyed from the Hummingbird Bakery in South Kensington to Pinner without cracking the seal on the box of cupcakes I had purchased. What makes this situation even more unreal is that not only did I refrain from sneaking treats meant to be enjoyed with others to celebrate my friend’s birthday, but I did not buy an extra cupcake (or two) at the bakery to eat on the trip back to Pinner.

But, it’s true. Sometimes I even amaze myself.

And the cupcake? Yeah it was pretty darn good.