Archive for the ‘Brit-ification’ Category

Where’s the party?

Thursday, 6th November 2008. Filed in Brit-ification1 Comment »

Well, last night ’twas a very quiet bonfire night round here. Crunchy husband took me out to dinner to celebrate Obama’s victory and my ‘European’ birthday (5/11 – May 11th or November 5th, you decide!) since my real 30th birthday earlier this year was spent more than a bit anxiously in the ER getting my father admitted to the hospital. [Now that he’s okay and all surprisingly skinny NHS bills have been footed by their health insurance (if you’re American the total cost for 3 weeks in hospital and surgery would make you hysterical), we can all laugh about the birthday pancakes my mom made me. (She was worried. It was a hard time.)]

But, we appeared to be the only ones out and about last night. For Guy Fawkes’ Day, Canterbury was like a ghost town. It was kind of funny though because the last couple times we’ve thought let’s go Cuban, we get there and can’t get a table. So, this time Crunchy husband makes a reservation and the place is empty except for one other couple. How stupid did we look? “Uh, [cough] we have a table reserved. ” Ah well.

The night didn’t liven up on the drive home either. I kept my eyes peeled for signs of fireworks and fires. We saw a few pops of light toward the coast so we headed north. In vain. The only sign of a bonfire we came across on our roundabout travels last night was the usual trail of smoke from the MOD fire rescue training centre, but even that ‘party’ looked to be over and I am not sure we would have been welcome.

However, I think there are supposed to be celebrations this weekend, so as long as the weather doesn’t do what it’s forecast to do, we may get our fireworks yet. Though nothing, I don’t think, could ever compare to the bonfire in Leeds three years ago. That was positively scary. I have never seen a bonfire so big, felt a bonfire so hot. Sounds pretty good right now!

No flying pancakes, but crabs and ice cream

Wednesday, 27th August 2008. Filed in Brit-ification, Family and friends1 Comment »

One thing I’ve learned from living in England is you don’t let the weather influence what you do. If you sit at home and wait for a sunny day so you can go to the beach, all I can say is good luck. So, when the last summer bank holiday rolls around, and you have friends coming down from West Yorkshire to go to the seaside, you go to the seaside. Even if it’s rainy and cloudy. And you have fun, gosh darn it!

Rain? Clouds? Who cares!

We went out to Joss Bay on Sunday to catch low tide so that we could go do a little rockpooling and a bit of sand art. That lasted for about 10 minutes before running back to the cars with wet little ones. But, not before a crab had been found!

We got home, dried off, had some lunch and headed back out to Margate. Judging from the weather earlier, I didn’t bother to put my bathing suit back on. Stupid move, it was beautiful! So, we got a chance to splash around, make a starfish in the sand, and create “Emma Island.”

Then, we moved around the coast, had some ice cream at Morelli’s, and everyone was happy!

Perhaps the biggest lesson learned from the weekend was never read Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs if you want the sun to shine in England. (But then again, I’m not sure if I can handle that.) Oh yeah, and I ran 6 miles with hills and didn’t die, so I think that puts me okay for the Nike+ Human Race in London this weekend. I won’t race it hardcore (do I ever??), but I should have fun. Hooray!

Oh my god, and then she was all…and I was like…

Wednesday, 6th February 2008. Filed in Brit-ification2 Comments »

Here in the Crunchy household, we like to give Crunchy husband gyp about his pronunciation of common Spanish words. (You have to realize when I say this that my Spanish is absolute crap, so really it’s just light-hearted fun. And he gets his own back when we go to France.) It’s just one part of our ever-expanding blend of American and British English lingoes, pronunciations and styles. (Our kids are going to be so messed up.) With him, salsa is sælsa and tacos become tæcos (æ= picture how you would say the a sound in apple). He claims it is his rebellion against the posh English “ah” sound, which I believe. After all, he says things like e’yup and gi-ya ring later (give without the v sound). He’s my tractor boy through and through. When we go out with friends, they like to say things like fa-gee-ta and ja-la-pee-nos (j sounds) just to rile me up.

But what I heard this morning tops anything they have ever said. The DJ on the radio was talking about Madonna and ended by introducing the song. Now, I know my Madonna. But there was a brief moment I had no clue what song she was talking about. All I heard was the middle word, foreign in more than one sense of the word.

“Here you go, here’s ‘la eye-sluh bonita’.”

It would have made Crunchy husband’s heart burst from his chest, swollen with pride.

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 fiancé 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

From white to deep-fried in 0-60

Monday, 6th August 2007. Filed in Brit-ificationNo Comments »

The house is a mess. We have no food. I have stacks of newspapers, magazines and books to read. And something somewhere smells. But, as we’ve learned this summer, if the weather’s nice, you go out and enjoy it because it’s bound not to last. Today is cloudy and gray, but yesterday we had this:

The sprinkling of colors over the sand in Broadstairs made me glow. This beach is a lonely ghost town in the winter. Though something in the glory of the summer sunshine made me cringe. I think it was all the pale people laying themselves out for the deep fry. We saw so many people red and crispy, blistering at the edges, and still going out for more. Maybe it’s a British thing? Crunchy husband still isn’t quite broken of the “you have to get burned on holiday so when you go back to work people know you’ve been somewhere” mentality. AY!

England ushers in a new era

Sunday, 1st July 2007. Filed in Brit-ification1 Comment »

Smoking ban, smoking ban, smoking ban!


Blending into my surroundings

Wednesday, 11th April 2007. Filed in Brit-ification3 Comments »

I hate to admit it, but I think I may be becoming Brit-ified by the minute. Tonight, I will be preparing my first cottage pie. Against my nature and common sense, I catch myself using the term “car park”, despite the fact that I’ve yet to see a swing or a slide in any parking lot. And even though I’ve got my driving test out of the way, I continue to use my handbrake for activities other than simply parking and to “push and pull” the steering wheel to turn the car.

What is the world coming to?

Etymological awakenings

Friday, 2nd March 2007. Filed in Brit-ification1 Comment »

A few weeks ago Moose woke up pondering the definition of aplomb. Today, as is usual for people who think alike, I awoke considering the different uses of the word “broody”. It’s funny how you can hear something for so long and not wonder. And then finally one day wonder about what you’ve heard and then wonder why you hadn’t wondered before. In my world, the term broody immediately conjures up the image of Mr. Darcy sulking in the corner of a room, brow furrowed, unsociably dour. And yet here, broody seems to be used mostly to describe a woman ready, in the emotional sense if not also in the physiological sense, to have a child. I know, they do a lot of things ‘differently’ here. But, in this case, the use actually makes the most sense to me. Ready to breed. Broody. It works.

To me, new life is a joyous and happy occasion. Where did this other stormy connotation come from? Until today, I never questioned it. It always made sense to me in a go-with-the-flow kind of way. Broody. Moody. Similar sound, similar meaning. (Oh, I can be so easily pleased sometimes.) But, really I know, or should know, that rhyme does not always make reason. Red means something completely different to head. Glad and sad, opposites.

Thanks to the Online Etymology Dictionary, everything has fallen into place in my mind. Or, at least everything concerning the uses of broody. The roots of “brood” mean “that which is hatched by heat”. Okay, that makes sense so far, nothing new to me there. But, then it goes on to say “the verbal figurative meaning (“to incubate in the mind”) is first recorded 1571, from notion of “nursing” one’s anger, resentment, etc.” A-ha! This usage makes sense to me too.

Now, if only I could get my head round why the British use the French word aubergine for eggplant, but the Americans use an English term. Where the Americans got the English term when the British use the French term is beyond me. I guess that’s my next project: Why we can’t just all call a cookie a cookie, a trunk a trunk. Sorry, but you eat biscuits with gravy and a boot is a shoe, thank you very much.