27 March 2008

fiji and beyond

One of my colleagues is going to Fiji on business next month. First, the end of April, he is going to Hong Kong, then a month after that he is going to Fiji. Some other guys are going to Russia for a week. No matter how hard I tried, I could not convince anyone that I needed to be a part of these trips. So instead I will stay in the UK and just dream of a vacation...

Karon is a wonderful lady that I work with who has a beautiful house on Sanibel Island, right off the coast of Naples, Florida. She has said that I am more than welcome to use it anytime I want. That sounds very appealing. Perhaps that can be my vacation. Or a cruise. Florida got me thinking of Miami, which got me thinking that it is a leaving port for most Caribbean cruises. Maybe that could be my vacation. However, my most recent idea is a two week tour around Central America. Two weeks is not long enough, I know, but unfortunately that is all the time I could manage to take off. But how great would that be? Exploring the ancient Mayan ruins, relaxing on the beautiful beaches of Honduras, scuba diving in Belize.....hmmmm....that is a good dream.

If someone reading this would like to give me some money to take one of the aforementioned vacations, or any other one for that matter, I will gladly accept. In return you will receive not only several nice post cards from my exotic location, but also a big hug (from a much tanner Kristina) upon my return. I will probably be so gracious as to include a gift of the classic 'beach sand in used coke bottle' A classic gift from any beachfront destination. A fair trade if you ask me. Now look at what everyone from work missed out on by not taking me to Fiji, Hong Kong and Russia....humph!

Soldiers and America

In light of all the anti-war and anti-American talk out there, I decided I would make a comment. I came across this quote the other day and thought it was fantastic. Despite the fact that the man who made the statement originally was an actor with not a huge amount of professional education or international experience, he is considered one of the greatest presidents America ever had- Ronald Regan. In regards to the military, specifically when the elite Special Forces and Marines came under fire, he said "Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But the Marines, they don't have that problem" I think it's amazing the sacrifice that our troops make; not just the Marines-the Army, Navy and Air Force as well. All deserve places of honour in our society. I know its a tired cliché, but they fight and die so that people have the 'right' and freedom to complain and condemn them. What a crazy world we live in. I am, and always have been, partial to the military. It is a brave profession in my eyes. Well done soldiers, well done.

In response to the seemingly constant condemnation of America, I personally don’t see what is so bad about it. Freedoms like you wouldn’t believe, plenty of jobs, unending amounts of land, enough food and food sources to feed millions, beaches, mountains, oceans, forests, amazing cities and a huge variety of cultures, religions and people. Seriously?! What is so bad about America? and Americans for that matter? I don’t want to seem ridiculous and always writing pro-American sentiment, but lately I have had so many encounters with those who think very negatively of the states and by default, those who hail from them. Tony Blair, when asked about America in a recent interview said "A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in and how many want out." I like that. For all the crap that America gets, how many people want to make a better life for themselves on the good ole' US soil? Currently we have 21,441,807 illegal immigrants living in the US. That figure doesn’t even include the number of people who have legally immigrated to the states. I read in a newspaper not to long ago that every day 80 British leave Great Britain to live abroad. In contrast, 23 leave America every day to live abroad. This is not intended to be a tirade against Great Britain. I really do love the UK. But I have reached my limit apparently with anti-American comments, especially from the British. I felt the need to say something. Sure not all the actions of the states are great; even I don’t agree with a lot that government does. But every country has their short comings and every country makes mistakes. I will take President Bush, even with all his faults, over Columbian rebel 'freedom' fighters, Communist China, the Venezuelan President who is more of a dictator than anything else, Saudi Arabia and Iran, where there are literally no rights for women, corrupt, unjust and murderous leaders in Sudan and other African nations and a Russian leader who is ruling the country in KGB style- no public TV, newspapers, cutting off oil etc...

18 March 2008

finally a local

As I sat on the train today, I pondered life in London. Its strange this life is. It's weird the things I have gotten used to. So here goes:

I am now more accustomed to a Middle Eastern accent instead of Mexican. I eat Indian food with the same frequency that I ate tacos...or at On the Boarder. Things like Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer and Parliament are all very real things. I spell honour and favourite with a U and I spell organise with an S instead of Z. I say things like post and lift instead of mail and elevator. I am used to not having a wall mounted shower and having radiators along the walls as my heating. I hardly think about it when I walk over cobblestone streets or see the houses smashed together, all in a row. I say back garden referring to a persons backyard and I always make the distinction between Football and American Football. I can tell you which tube line you need to get on depending on where you want to go in Central London, and for that matter, I say things like 'tube' instead of subway or metro.

The things that have become habit are things that I never really thought of. It’s the little things that you get used to. And it’s the little things that you grow to love. I love that I can take easy jet to Scotland for £18! (we are going next week) I love that there are chip shops on the corner and I can get fresh fries anytime I want. I love that I get to watch my husband play rugby for the local club. I love that I live in a place where there are local clubs (and they are actually a big deal) I like that everyone gets into sports over here, and really supports a team. I love the pub culture. Not 'I am going to a bar after work' but sitting down, sharing a pint with your mates down the local pub. I also love that British people take out words or add letters to them. For example: 'down the pub' or 'glad to meet yous' no one thinks it bad grammar, it is just how they talk.

Yesterday when I was emailing a work colleague who is based in the states, he referred to me as a local. I laughed and said that was the first time. But it occurred to me that I am local. Naturally you are local to wherever you live, but I have been here now 7 months. I know my way around the city, I know what is acceptable and what is not. I love so many things about my new home. I love all the things I have already gotten used to and I look forward to more. I love that I am now a local.

14 March 2008

Chew Chew's

I am a creature of habit. Not in all things; in some areas I really crave change. but within that, I look for the familiar and repeat it day after day. Like Chew Chew's. Chew Chew's is a little hole in the wall cafe about 10 feet from the train station in Staines. Sine my office shares the same car park as the train station, the cafe is the place I go. From my desk to the door of Chew Chew's is exactly 27 steps. (yeah, I counted....) The woman who owns the shop calls out "hello doll" each time I come in and she knows exactly what I want. A Lipton Ice Tea with Lemon. Out of all the places in Great Britain I have been to, this is the only place I have seen that sells iced tea in a bottle. Iced tea is not really a British thing, and I was really missing it. Since I discovered Chew Chew's has it, i go every day. I don’t necessarily want an iced teas every day, but I really like the familiarity that the whole experience has to offer.

Take today for explain. I walked the 27 steps to the shop, walked in to a huge line. When the owner saw me she called out " hello doll" gave me my tea, for which I had the exact change ready, and out I went. In front of the line, all under 30 seconds. I love my weird habits. I love Chew Chew's. As long as I work in Staines I will be a loyal customer.

13 March 2008

i really dont like the french

Yeah, I really don’t like the French. There is not much I even like about their country. Sure, Paris has some cool things, and the battlefields of the Somme are in France, but really that’s about it for me. In all the times I have been to France, not once have I been treated nicely. I have been kicked off trains (for innocently getting on the wrong one) charged too much because they guy thought it was funny, laughed at for tripping (stupid, clumsy American was the exact comment) told I should travel as a Canadian because Americans aren't wanted and worst of all, stuck at a station for nearly 3 hours, in tears, on my own because no one would help me. I was only 23, travelling by myself and I was in Northern France in a small little village outside Arras. No one would help, even when I asked. I did, however, get a lot of mean looks, why don’t you speak the language comments and stupid American remarks. I, as an individual, should not be judged on the actions of my countries president. More than any other country in the world, and I have been to 36, I have never been treated so poorly or unfairly as I have been in France.

So when I came across these antidotes, I decided to print them. Both made me smile and both deserve to be shared.

1. A group of Americans, retired teachers, recently went to France on a tour. Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane.

At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on. "You have been to France before, monsieur?" the customs officer asked sarcastically.

Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.

"Then you should know enough to have your passport ready."

The American said, "The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it."

"Impossible. Americans always have to show your passports on arrival in France !"

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained, "well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in '44 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find any Frenchmen to show it to."

2. A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S. , English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies. At a cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of Officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, 'whereas Europeans learn many languages, Americans learn only English.' He then asked, 'Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?'

Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied, 'Maybe it's because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't have to speak German.'

being a nun

It occurred to me yesterday on my walk home that I looked like a nun. Rhys said that I looked very nice, my boss said I looked 'dapper' but really it was code words for 'you look like a nun' Black tights, longish black shirt, white shirt with a black vest and my long black coat! yup, I looked like a nun! All day I felt a little funny, but I couldn’t quite picture why. I now realise it was because all day I was impersonating a nun!

7 March 2008

from 1997 to 2008

When my brother got engaged back in 1997, I remember really distinctively being dragged to the mall with my mom and future sister in law to look at dish patterns, silver, glasses, bedding etc.... Oh, it was the most boring thing in the world! Then, when my parents wanted to move house, we drove all over Tulsa looking at houses, getting ideas, going through them....oh even worse than looking at dishes!

Now, in 2008, when I go on the internet, a good majority of that time is spent looking for houses! Mostly homes I can't afford, but still. Nice places with a huge garden out back, lost of room inside, big windows, a clean fresh feel. Funny how things change so much. I loved picking out my dishes when Rhys and I got engaged and I found it really enjoy going through bedding! Strange, I know.

So...how can I correlate wanting to live in my very own house with wanting to not be tied down and travel all over the world...well I am a weird person. What can I say, I have lots of different dreams. Never the less, I still want to do it all. Maybe that is my problem.....

it wont go away

Not to be repetative, but I still really want to go! I was hoping that it would just go away and I would become magically content with everything. but to no avail. I by no means want to imply that I am not pleased with life here, because I love being married to Rhys more than anything in the world. He is, and always will be, perfect. However, I still want to go.....go to a far away location and explore.

6 March 2008

up and go

I really enjoy living here. I like almost everything about London. I love that it is a change, something so different than what has become my 'norm' But lately I have been getting an urge that I just cant shake. I want to travel. I want to go and explore. I want to be out there in the big, wide world, just moving from country to country, experiencing life.

My uncle used to tease me, saying that I was the 'free spirit' in the family and you never quite knew what I was going to do. I miss that. I miss the freedom that exploring offers. I really chafe under conventional life. I am not a fan of the hierarchical institutions that I have to work in. It annoys me on a regular basis that I have to keep a job that is not my favourite because I have to pay bills. What am I not out there? Why am I not living in a small South American village working on my Spanish? Or Turkey....what about that? What am I not testing out the famous, ancient baths while eating authentic Turkish Delight?

I want to travel the entire length of the Trans-Siberian railway. I want to kayak around the entire north island of New Zealand. I want to ride a bicycle through southern Spain. I want to hike every mountain in Switzerland. I want to ride a boat down the Rhine. I want to hitch hike through Scandinavia. Of course, all with Rhys. But I want to do it! I want to up and go.