31 July 2008

a new life and a new outlook

Somewhere along the line I have picked up this really bad habit of complaining about the small things. Things that don’t really matter like the colour of the carpet in my flat, or the fact that it is only 1 bedroom and we are a bit cramped. But really how greedy do I need to be? We have a roof, we have walls; really we have a decent flat. What is the need in complaining that my job can sometimes be pretty boring? At least it gives me the chance to blog while at work ;) But seriously, it pays extremely well and I have very flexible hours. Why the need to complain?! Where is my attitude of thanksgiving? Why am I not grateful for the things that I have in my life and instead end up comparing? It's not even comparing it to other people, I compare to an idea I have in my head of what married/adult life should look like. It hit me yesterday afternoon that all of that needed to change.

I have passed the 25 year mark which makes me seem more 'adult-like' than before. Not that I act any differently, or have different opportunities (except maybe renting a car more cheaply) but its one of those important life markers. I am closer to 30 than to 20. Along with my new age, comes my new marriage. Almost a year now I have been Mrs. Rhys Williams. While I have loved every single minute of married life, it does come with new responsibilities. Just a factor of growing up and starting a family I suppose. While I have longed for marriage, my own life, family, home etc... I have always had a certain expectation of what that would look like. An expectation based on the surroundings for the first 24 years of my life. Oklahoma and Arkansas and the people I encountered in those places gradually shaped the way I was to look at adult life and marriage. I have always said I wanted to live overseas, but I don’t think I ever really believed that I would. It was a far off dream more than reality. The white house with a wrap around porch and big green lawn was more realistic than life in Europe or Australia.

But then it all changed. I married my amazing husband and ended up living out my overseas dream in London. Problem was I didn’t bother to change my expectations of life. It just seemed like a minor detail. So what if I live in London, I can still have the nice 3 story house with a tree fort in the back yard right? and drive a big jeep? I never seemed to fully grasp the concept that London is the second most expensive place to live in the world while Arkansas, Fayetteville in particular, is one of the cheapest places to live in America (and the world) It was annoying that the flat was smaller, everything was more expensive and it wasn’t always feasible to drive. You would think it would be pretty obvious- things that work in Arkansas don’t necessarily work in London. For some reason it hit me yesterday. Sacrifice.

Yes, sacrifice. Amazing what a difference a realization and a few hours can make. I live in London, on a decent but not huge wage. Therefore I will not have a big house, or a house at all for that matter! I will probably always live in a tiny flat and feel a bit cramped while we choose to reside here. I will have to rely on public transport and deal with expensive petrol and food. But I don’t think I will complain as much anymore. Why? Sacrifice. I may have to 'sacrifice' or change my preconceived ideas of adult life and marriage, but in exchange I get someone equally as fantastic. See my problem was that up until yesterday I was some how convinced that I was doing something wrong because I have now reached the 'adult' stage and don’t like my job, own my own house, have a big yard or drive a fancy car. Not only is that stupid, but not even what I have ever really wanted! I had convinced myself that life needed to look like small town Arkansas or Oklahoma and I measured myself against those lifestyles and expectations. But the thing is, I don’t live there or really want that life anymore. I grew up but hadn’t really changed my mind.

So I may be sacrificing the ideas of my childhood, but I do get something amazing in return. I have always believed in theory that when you sacrifice yourself and personal desires and really surrender to the will of the Lord, amazing things happened. I know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus has us in London for this time. But I have not been willing to sacrifice any of my 'American-ness' or my expectations to be truly open to see what He has for us here. Because I live in the UK I may not get the house and land and space, but I do get Europe. Last week I was in San Pedro and Marbella Spain for 7 days. This weekend we are going to Wales. In two weeks for our anniversary we are going to see the Stereophonics live in Cambridge and then thinking of going to Amsterdam for the weekend. That’s right, Amsterdam for the weekend! Not only is it that close, but affordable as well. What an amazing time of life! How in the world could I ever forget to be grateful for living here? God has provided me with an amazing opportunity to travel and work and live reasonably all at the same time! How in the world has it taken me so long to embrace the life has God has laid ahead for me here in the UK? It looks really different than life in Arkansas, but gosh, how amazing is it here?

So what brought on the change? Well a little bit of everything. It has been really sunny this week in London. On Monday I met my friend Mandy for drinks in Trafalgar Square. I walked through the crowded centre, with fountains and people galore! Children and grown men in suits jumping in the fountains alike, teenagers enjoying a kick around game, families having an early evening picnic. It was one of the loveliest sites of summer London so far. As I made my way to the pub where my friend was, she had already reserved a nice table under the shade of a big tree. Having a beer, eating some chips, watching the big red double-decker buses go by, I was so pleased to live in London in the summer. It was an indescribable smushy, warm feeling in my heart. Then yesterday, the big catalyst was a conversation with my friend Sam. It went something like this:

S: Want to do late night shopping Thursday on Oxford Street?

K: Yeah, I could be up for that. What time?

S: Want to get the same tube from Waterloo or should be just meet outside at the Marble Arch tube stop?

K: is the store by Marble Arch? I cant picture it there in my head.

S: Yeah I think so...I will look tomorrow.

A simple enough conversation, but the core is that we are choosing to meet either at Waterloo station or a tube stop on Oxford Street. I have those options! Its good to live in London; its good to shop on Oxford street; its good to finally be truly thankful for the opportunity to live, work and experience life in a different country and truly embrace it for all its worth. I may be sacrificing the dream of my big country house with a porch by age 26, but I am gaining the dream on international jet setter! :) I am finally open to see what the Lord has given me, and requires of me, while in the UK. I am finally open and ready.

30 July 2008

Timetable of the 29th (death of a train)

4.29: caught the train from my office to Clapham Junction

Caught the train from Clapham to Watford

5.30: stopped between Kensington and Wembley...announcement saying there was a slight technical problem. Ok I think, not too bad, jsut about 20 minutes delayed.

6.00: have not moved. No further announcement. No idea what was going on.

6.30: Announcement 'Ladies and gentlemen, sorry for the inconvenience, but due to technical failure this train has died and is no longer in service' what?! are you kidding me?! 'we will be stopped here until another train can come and recover us' Recover us? what the heck does that mean? I laugh in disbelief with the man next to me.

6.45: not moving

7.00: not moving

7.15: still not moving

7:35: Moving! wait, in the wrong direction....back to Kensington.

7.45: caught the train, again, to Watford....stopped again, oh wait, moving...at the pace of a snail.

8.30: Watford, home, finally!!

So, when you add the time I spent getting to work in the morning, combined with the delay on the way home, I commuted yesterday for 6 hours! boo! I took the car to work today!

a favourite Rhys story

We are recently back from holiday. We had booked off the days from work months in advance, but ended up waiting until the last minute to book the holiday. Rhys was convinced we could get a better deal that way. So we waited, and waited and waited. We debated long and hard about where to go: Portugal, Greece, Malta, Egypt...Spain was the only place neither of us wanted to go. We had both been so many times before and together as well, so we decided a new location would suit us best. So we waited, and waited, and then waited some more. Finally Wednesday came along. We wanted to leave on Friday or Saturday, so I’d say that was cutting it pretty close. We couldn’t find anything cheap enough that was still available. We had waited too long. We ended up in Spain. At the end of the day, Spain is not bad. It is actually one of my favourite countries; loads of sunshine, nice beaches, great markets. It was a brilliant holiday! 7 days in southern Spain turned out to be just what we needed. My added bonus was that the very first stamp in my new passport was from Spain. I like the thought of that.

On our return home on Saturday we were unpacking and doing laundry, all those fun things that you always look forward to after laying on a beach, soaking up the sun for a week. So I dumped all the clean clothes on the bed and asked Rhys to take what was his, fold it, and put it away. Next thing I know Rhys has come over to me and picked me up! 'what in the world are you doing?' I cried. He replied 'well, you are mine and you told me to fold and put away whatever was mine. So I am folding you and putting you in my pocket so I can take you with me' Ok, ok so its a bit cheesy, but I love it! What a cute story?! It has become one of my favourite moments from holiday; and on that note, one of my favourite Rhys stories ever! I have a great husband!

18 July 2008

Staines, my office and crime

I work in Staines. For most Americans that wont mean a lot, but for those of you familiar with England and the greater London area, well it means something. What it means is crap. Yup, Staines is a dump. Ali G is from Staines (same guy who did Borat, but earlier, cruder, and white trash) They are trying to revamp the image of Staines; new offices, coffee shops, even a Starbucks. But lets face it, is there anywhere that Starbucks wont go? So my office is smack in the town centre of Staines. Right by the train station, next to a pub and a little sandwich shop. Lots of traffic. Lots of questionable people out and about. And as I have had some interesting brushes with crime recently, I have decided to share.

About 3 months ago I left the office in the afternoon and when I returned the following morning I found my docking station upside down on the floor, my phone cords ripped up, a half drunk Coke bottle on my desk and my computer gone. (the Coke bottle is crucial to the story) I was shocked! It had been stolen in the middle of the afternoon with people in the office! So I called the police and reported it stolen. An investigator came out to take my statement and 'gather evidence' I NEVER drink regular Coke, nor does anyone else in the office, so I knew it couldn’t be ours. He pulled out the gloves and evidence bag and took the Coke bottle away for evidence. He said, and I quote, 'I will get this to the lab and they will swab for DNA evidence' How crazy is that?! A few days later I get a call, they have recovered enough DNA evidence to find a match in their system. They caught the guy who stole my computer because he was stupid enough to leave his half empty Coke bottle on my desk! He was also stupid enough to admit that he stole it, then sold it for money for buy crack. That got him an additional drugs charge. Moron.

Then about a month ago we ordered pizza for a late night in the office. The delivery man phoned one of my colleagues to find out exactly where we were located. My colleague heard a lot of commotion and yelling in the background. Thinking the delivery man was in the car with some mates he said, 'I cant hear you, call me back when its quieter' Turns out the pizza man was being mugged at the corner of our office building! They stole all his cash and all our pizzas!! The police never ended up catching them, no one foolish enough to leave DNA evidence that time.

And then yesterday...I kept hearing a lot of police sirens but as we are right by the road, I just thought they were driving by. But as I was getting ready to leave and walked out the back door of the office, I was confronted by a crime scene. Loads of police, CSI people in big white suits, police tape roping off areas. Someone had been stabbed in my car park! Yeah, that is crazy! I couldn’t believe it. Not sure if it was fatal or not, but it sure was a big deal. They finally let me drive out of the lot and as I was leaving I sneakily took a picture to document the craziness.

So that is my office. Its not quite the war zone that I have described everyday, but it is a far cry from the middle class suburbia of Tulsa. weird.

17 July 2008

The M25

About 4 times a month I get the car and drive to work. I have to fight Rhys over it, but I managed to win this morning. As I was driving along the M25...more like sitting in stop and go traffic for 45 minutes than actually driving, but anyhoo...as I was going along I noticed a sign that really made me chuckle. There are these big electronic signs that usually say things like "congestion, stay in lane" or "junction 12 to 16, 25 minutes” alerting one to the expected wait time. It’s great when they say nothing because then it means there is no traffic, no wait and the M25 journey is splendid. This morning the sign said "Don’t phone whilst driving" Really? People actually speak like that? I am picturing a 60 year old man with a tweed jacket, a pipe, scarf around his neck, speaking in a late 1800's British colonial accent.... " I say, dear me, don’t phone whilst driving, one could have a dreadful accident...." Think a cross between Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady, Sean Connery in Raiders of the Lost Ark and anyone from Zulu. That is the image I get. Old, new to colour, slightly fuzzy, very proper and overly British. I just had to smile. Granted not everything on the M25 is as polite or enjoyable. Someone almost smashed into the side of me today and when I honked to alert the careless driver to my presence I got a not very nice, although very British, gesture back!

10 July 2008

Independence Day!!

This is the sign that I hung in my house all 4th of July weekend! Rhys loved it! But I was missing my country. I love America. I always have. Even though I have always wanted to live overseas, that has never detrached from my great admiration for the great United States of America. So even though I was far from home in the UK, I celebrated on the town with my British pals. Texas Embassy in Traflagar Square, then party in Canary Wharf....till the wee hours in the morning. Dancing, laughing, drinking, oh what a good 4th. I missed the lake, and sunshine, and especially the cheesy American songs they play all day on the radio. Proud to be an American was the one I missed the most. Luckily for me, Dan, one the of the Brits who came with us sang the national anthem (very loudly might I add) right in the middle of the resturant. Ah, gotta love it. I have included some pictures for all to share in the joy of my British Independence Day celebrations. Woo Hoo America!!
(notice the Texas flag in the background and baseball on TV)
(the group that we went with)
(what 'American' bar is complete with horns!?!)
(Dan, supporting America, well at least American Rugby)

the frat house....er, i mean my office....

Ok so its not nearly as bad as a frat house...but lets be frank here, the kitchen of an office should not look like this! I work in an office with 17 boys...and me. They often work over night and I come into an office that smells of curry, has take away containers, pizza boxes, coffee cups and beer cans everywhere!! However, working in an all male office does have its perks. Hospitatlity boxes to major Rugby internationals, unlimited beer budget, no catty backstabbing in the office....so I guess I would rather have that then a clean kitchen :)....and perhaps a better beer than Fosters!