31 October 2008

generally i wouldnt but....

I really dont like Halloween. I never had and I cant really imagine myself chaning my mind. That said, i felt this picture was a bit too good to pass up. happy halloween.

Why Pumpkins Shouldn't Drink

30 October 2008

Clapham at 16.52

This is an excerpt from my journal last night. I thought it was quite an eventful entry so I decided to share it.

“I got to Clapham Junction at 16.52. my train leaves at 17.03. Within that 10 minute window of time, the following things happened.

• A group of 3 teenager, 2 girls and 1 boy, were talking very loudly a ways down the platform from me. The conversation went like this:

ratty hair girl: urgh, i don’t want my chewing gum. It has no flavour (said in really whiney voice)
skinny jeans girl: well put it in the bin retard
ratty hair: there are no bins… ah… I don’t want it!!(said in even more annoyingly whiney voice if that is possible)
punk boy: spit it on the track….here I’ll do it for you.

Punk boy proceeds to hold his hand up to ratty hair’s mouth for her to spit her gum in; similar to the way a mother holds her hand to her toddlers mouth when he has eaten a toy or crayon. Weird. She spits her gum into his hand, he rolls it between his fingers until it is in a nice little ball (is this grossing anyone else out? Tell me that is NOT normal) and then he attempts to flick it onto the track. Except he misses. The gum deflects off of the coat of an unsuspecting business women in what appears to be very expensive outer wear. Luckily the gum just bounces off. It lands a few feet away and I think ‘phew! tragedy averted!’ however, before I could even finish that thought, another really fancy woman walks to the platform and places her Louis Vuitton bag right in the gum! Oh, the poor woman. The teenagers ran off down the platform laughing hysterically. I just had to turn away.

• Not even two minutes later a woman who is heavily pregnant comes to the platform. She is holding what I later find out to be a two month old. She is clearly struggling with the baby, shopping bags and coffee in her hand. She is too pregnant to set the coffee on the ground to readjust and she wont let anyone hold the coffee (I asked). Instead she decides to balance the near boiling liquid on top of a bench. Only problem? The bench backs are curved, there is no proper ledge in which to even attempt to balance a drink. As expected the cup quickly slips over, spilling its contents onto the unsuspecting passengers waiting for the train. No one was happy. Pregnant women doesn’t even attempt to apologise. She just looks annoyed she no longer has her coffee! (as an update, I am now on the train and pregnant woman is very unapologetically taking up 3 seats with her bags, talking loudly on the phone whilst her baby is crying.) Despite the woman’s apparent disregard for the feelings and clothing of those around her, the baby is absolutely adorable!

• Whilst the bench people are trying to mop themselves up, a train worker arrives on the platform opposite mine. He is eating a candy bar and when he finishes, in a blatant disregard for anything, he simply throws the wrapper on the ground!! Seriously! I couldn’t believe it. He then proceeds to yell across the platform to his buddy whose is working on mine. In 30 seconds he manages to yell the word fuck 3 times! Woman and children all around. Shocking!

Then my train came. Mad rush to get on. Elbow in the face. But at least I got a seat! Ah glory, home bound at last!”

29 October 2008

give me your address, get a postcard.

I like to write notes. I always have. I used to leave little notes for my roommates in college; I used to randomly put little letters in peoples mailboxes, I randomly give Rhys notes all the time. (read: constantly go overboard with the notes to my husband) I just enjoy sending along a little, unexpected smile. cause that is what letters do. make someone feel special, wanted, excited and appreciated. I like to make people smile. Following that principle, I would like to send out a postcard to everyone who reads this and sends me their address. If you think, oh wait you don’t know me, well that is even better! I like strangers. Even if you think I already have your address, send it again. I would really love to do this so please humour me, take 3 seconds to drop me an email with your address. Local, international....it doesn’t matter. I am really excited about this. Per my map (look at the side bar) people all over the world read this blog....people in places where I don’t even know anyone. how great is that? So lets make some new friends and share some good ole' fashioned snail mail!

Send address to: kristina.williams0@yahoo.co.uk

winter already?!

This is my street. This is my 'community lawn' covered in snow! Snow! And those white dots in the picture is not a camera screw up, its snow! SNOW! Really? It is only October! I can't believe it. Last year, right at the very tail end of winter, it snowed. It was the first time in over 20 years that snow had actually touched down in central London. And here it is, October and snowing. Not just a light, wimpy flake either. Real, proper snow. Glorious.

Mind you I am not ready for the winter at all. I am having a hard time adjusting to the fact that it is winter already here when we have not actually had a summer. This is the first year of all the 26 that I have been alive where I have worn a cardigan year around! That’s right sports fans, all freakin’ year!! June, July and August saw a total of 288 hours of sunshine. You might be thinking, oh 288 hours, that sounds like a lot. But it’s not. Living through 3 months of only 288 hours of sunshine really sucks.

All in all, I am not ready for winter. But alas, if winter must come at least it came with the snow.
Little Avi with his first bit of snow on him!

living in belief or circumstance?

So much of how I view the world is based solely on my circumstances. I like to think that others have this view also, that it is not just a crazy, mixed up Kristina way of thinking as I tend to have sometimes. But really, it is pretty sad. I can have an instant mood change based on external happenings or internal processing. The slightest thing can set me off one way or another. I cry and laugh at the drop of a hat. Some of that I love, but some...well... Until recently it had never occurred to me that there was a fault in living based on circumstances. Embarrassingly enough I just thought that is how I had to live.

There is a fault though, and quite a big one at that. Jesus calls us to believe. I tentatively put forth the argument that He calls us to believe above all else. Believe in Him, that He is saviour, son of God, light of the world, truth, justice, love and peace. If we believe first and foremost, then it should follow that everything becomes secondary because believing (read: trust) becomes the focus and there are less questions, doubts, fears, anxiety, uncertainty. Doubt brings in confusion, it causes unnecessary questions about life, about situations, it causes us to wonder where we are going, why we are going there and how in the hell we will actually get there. Belief eases the pain. Believing in a truth greater than ourselves, believing in a purpose, a plan, a hope; believing that there is a journey, a guide and a path laid before our feet allows us to walk freely, knowing we are protected.

Protected. I use to take issue with that. If I believe than that means it’s easy? It means that nothing bad will happen? I will be protected? I finally found solace to that question in the book of Daniel. It is a common story, the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. To summarise, they refuse to bow down and worship the idol that King Nebuchadnezzar has created. They refuse to bow to anything short of God himself. They are brought before the king, who is furious, and he demands that they worship the idol or face the penalty of death by being thrown alive into a pit of fire. Even faced with certain death they answer “O King, it is not to you we have to justify ourselves. The God we serve is powerfully enough to deliver us from your hand. But even if He does not, we want you to know, we will not bow down and worship the idol you have made” (Daniel 3:17-18). They believed. They believed regardless of the outcome. Belief for these 3 was not dependent upon wealth, happiness, reward or favour. It was belief regardless of circumstance. It was true belief. So yes, believing means that we will be protected; maybe not in the way we as humans see fit, but protected as sons and daughters of the Lord Jesus Christ. Protected and brought into his loving arms in the way (and time) that he sees as best.

Living according to circumstance would have forced Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to not only have worshiped the idol, but given up on their belief long before that opportunity even presented itself. They probably would have given up when they were first taken into captivity, moved away from friends and family, had their names changed, forced to work as slave labour, all the while struggle for food and shelter. If it had been me, I probably would have. About that time I would have felt deserted and abandoned. But that is the difference; I would have chosen to live according to circumstance. Not principle. Not belief.

It is circumstantial living that forces us to question the very promises we need so desperately to cling to. Letting life and mood be affected so drastically but what is around us creates doubt. Doubt is the opposite of belief. This idea comes into focus when I think about my prayers. Often I am asking for something. Direction, guidance, healing, increased faith and so on. I expect that these prayers will be answered. Yet I change nothing about my internally function. I choose to ‘live in the moment’ ‘roll with the punches’, ‘take it as it comes’ and in turn I am affected by circumstance. Jesus says “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7) To dissect that verse a bit more, let me offer the Kristina paraphrase “But you ask in faith, without questions and doubting, for when you doubt Kristina, you become like a wave of the ocean, blowing back and forth based on circumstance, easily swayed, easily confused. For you cannot possibly think that you, being of so many different minds and moods, unstable, unbelieving, will receive anything from the Lord” He calls us to believe. To be of sound heart and mind, grounded in the Word of God.

Living in belief grounds us. Circumstantial living uproots us. Belief causes joy because we know what we believe and how we are called to live. Circumstantial living forces us to move easily, to become uncertain and shaky depending on what particular thing is happening at the moment. How can that bring joy? I don’t think that it can.

I want that belief that was shown in Daniel. I want to know, that I know, that I know God will save, ‘but even if he doesn’t’ I don’t want to waver. I want that faith. I want to transition from a life of circumstantial living into a life full and overflowing with belief. As a dear friend, and mentor, once said “Get off the roller coaster of life and learn to live on the plateau.”

24 October 2008

Radiators and Palin

My hairdryer stopped working about mid-way through drying my hair. Normally I don’t even bother to dry my hair, but as I am still in the ever so delicate recovery stage of pneumonia, I figured it was probably best not go to bed with wet hair. I was quite annoyed that I had actually made the effort to dry my hair and instead of cooperating with me, my hairdryer randomly decided it had had enough and stopped. Never fear, I improvised wonderfully. I decided to finish drying my hair on the radiator. I dry clothes on the radiators all the time, so why not my hair? I was quite thankful no one was around to watch me attempt to use our central heating system as a hairdryer. Leaning back in a chair, scrunched against the radiator, tomato red face and shoulders, complete with little beads of sweat running down my face. I burned myself twice, managed to only moderately dry the ends of my hair, wasted half an hour, and then gave up. I went to bed with wet hair.

My hair was a massive fro this morning when I got up. Sleeping on wet hair does that to me. I tried to flatten it by putting it into a pony tail which resulted in my hair looking a bit like Sarah Palin - out dated and much too high on my head. Out came the straightener. much better. Creepy hair moment aside, I did quite a lot of thinking about Sarah Palin this morning. I officially voted, sealed my ballot, and sent it off. I have chosen my presidential candidate. It hurt so badly I almost cried. I know this is another political post, after my Palestine post yesterday, but it’s got to be said. Plus I intro-ed with a funny story to distract you and keep you sucked in. Now you are stuck! ha ha ha!! (read: evil plan laugh)

This election has baffled me. It seems so clear to some which confuses me even more. I just don’t understand it. How some people think it cut and dry is really beyond me. Perhaps it is my weak intellect and underdeveloped view of politics. Perhaps I am too middle of the road. It could be my indecisive manner coming into play, reminding me that there will be 4 more years before I can change my mind. Whatever the reason, it has taken me forever to pick a candidate.

In the pre-DNC days, when it was between Obama and the devil herself, I had no problem. I was fairly convinced that it would be a democratic candidate who would win, and I was praying my little heart out that it would be Obama. I made a solemn vow that I would never, EVER live in a country that would elect such a manipulative, evil, slimly, sleaze bag of a person into office (read: Hillary Clinton) You can not imagine my utter joy when Obama received the nomination. But then I dug a little deeper. I reviewed both Obama's and McCain's policies. I read parts of Obama's books, I read the 17 page personal account given by McCain in 1973 of his time as a POW in Vietnam (everyone should read that regardless of political orientation.) and I sat back to watch the crazy circus show that is American Politics.

Living in the UK during this frenzied election time has made it a bit interesting. I am not saturated with reports, adverts, debates, articles, reviews and media opinions. If I want news I have to search for it. I actually have to read the transcript of debates as they are not shown on T.V., I have to investigate what the candidates actually believe in, how they actually vote. To an extent I believe we will never really know what they believe in because on some level all parties are going to say whatever they think the people want to hear. But regardless, I searched, poked, prodded, researched, read, listened and searched some more in an attempt to gain all the information I could regarding the candidates.

And it has given me a different understanding. Couple that with living abroad and my perspective on this election is quite different. I think that makes it worse. It means that I have to make an educated decision based on the candidates and facts I know, and then vote accordingly. And it really sucks. Which brings me full circle to the people discussed earlier, those people who think it is such an easy decision. Why? How in the world is this easy? I have heard because McCain is old, because Obama gives great speeches, because one is conservative, one is liberal, one supports nationalised health care, one is pro-life....on and on and on it goes. Its not an easy choice for me. Mostly because I don’t like any of them.

I take that back. I do. I like McCain. I don’t like everything he stands for, I strongly disagree with some of his policies. and not to sound ageist, but he is old! But I like him all the same. I like to think that if we met on the street, we would be friends. and since I like some of what he stands for and we wont ever agree with everyone on everything, I guess I will have to pick what matters the most to me and go for that. So I had decided to vote McCain. Enter Sarah Palin. I DO NOT like her. I think she is a moron. literally. I struggle with Palin being a more 'middle-of-the-road' voter; I struggle with Palin as a woman; I struggle with Palin as an environmentalist (only moderately mom, don’t freak out); mostly though I struggle with Palin because I have a brain and evidently she does not!

I have watched some of her debates, I have watched some of her interviews and I have read the transcripts of every major thing that she has done since she was nominated. and I cringe each time. It seems to me that she picks random words, some big words, some country words, some hip-slang and throws it all together, hoping for the best. What comes out is...well there are no words to describe what comes out. It is that bad. And whilst I am convinced that McCain and I would be friends, Sarah Palin and I definitely would NOT be friends. If for no other reason than Ronald Dhal is a fantastic author and anyone who attempts to have James and the Giant Peach banned is no friend of mine!*

Back to square one. I liked some McCain and some Obama. Since I am currently without the power to combine people and make the perfect candidate, I had to choose one. I don’t agree, on any level, with drilling in Alaska. I will be the first to tie myself to a tree if they try to change any of my precious national parks. But after living in the UK, under a nationalised, health care for all system, I in no way agree with Obama's health care plan. I like that McCain has served in the armed forces and is humble, I like that Obama is intelligent, young and somewhat relatable. I hate that I have to choose between these two; mostly because there are only two to choose from.

But I did choose. I voted. And I am not happy with my choice. Part of the unhappiness steams from the fact that I procrastinated in sending my absentee ballet off and as a result had to pay almost $10 to ensure it would arrive by the 4th. Part has to do with my candidate choice. But even if I had voted another way I wouldn’t have been any happier. I am anxious to see what the outcome is. Who will America choose?

* see link for the 100 most challenged books of all time. Seriously! What are people thinking?

23 October 2008

in the words of Jason Pollack

Jason was one of my first friends at university. We had some interesting times together; in particular a really bad break up from my end and some weird friend issues from his. I can still remember the long talks in the Mayfield Lobby. Jason is now married to a wonderful woman, Sarah, and they have a beautiful daughter, Hiba. The three of them make their home in Palestine.

I have found that even the word 'Palestine' can burn bridges. Some one believes it should only be refereed to as Israel while another doesn’t even acknowledge the word Israel let alone the nation. My country relentlessly aligns itself with Israel, it seems most Christians support Israel. Some refuse to even accept there is another side. I have had numerous debates over the past year with both pro and anti Palestinian sides. And whilst I am usually very strongly opinionated one way or the other, this is one issue that has taken me a while to get my head around. Even now there is so much I don’t understand.

But what I do understand is that extremism under any guise is not acceptable. Injustice in the name of God, faith, religion, rights - is still injustice. I also know that blindly accepting something as fact, aligning yourself politically and spiritually with an issue because your family, church, country etc… do so is equally as wrong. and even though the following post is long, read it. It is the first of a series of articles (which will all be posted here) written by my dear friend Jason Pollack. He believes strongly enough in his cause that he is willing to fight. Not fight in the metaphorical sense that I fight for things. But actually make a stand in the face of real adversity. even to the point of arrest by the Israeli army. I think its safe to say no one reading this would want to be arrested by the Israeli army. If not for any other reason than that, this is worth a read:

"Many people come to the part of the world in which I live in order to “follow the footsteps of Jesus.” These people walk along the Via Dolorosa. They have lunch at the Sea of Galilee. They pray in Nativity Grotto. Mostly, they look for new insights in Jesus’ life and teachings by visiting the places that he lived and taught.

Living in Palestine, I am on the same mission: to follow the footsteps of Jesus. I honestly don’t have much use for holy sites, but the words of Jesus are a different story. Since I live in an area of significant racial, ethnic, political, and religious conflict, one passage in particular is often on my mind:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

Until I moved to Palestine in the summer of 2006, I was a typical middle-class white American as far as enemies were concerned: I never had any. Sure, my neighbor was really loud late at night, and sometimes a coworker would take credit for my work, but those people weren’t enemies. If I were in real trouble, they would come to my aid. If push came to shove, they would try to smooth things over with me rather than exacerbate conflict. In theory, I should be able to love, bless, and pray for those kinds of people without any significant psychological or spiritual hang-ups (not that I always did).

About four months ago, that all changed. I now have real enemies. People that hate me, spit on me, call me names, and tell me that I am a worthless human being. Sometimes I lay awake in bed imagining ways to hurt these people and fearing what they will do to me. It is a wholly unfamiliar and unpleasant experience.

These enemies are people with whom I would have ignorantly aligned myself only five years ago, before I was exposed to life in the Middle East. They are a group of Israeli Jews who believe that all of the land that made up ancient Israel should be controlled by the modern day state of Israel. They believe that the Palestinians who live here (and have lived here for thousands of years) should be forced out through economic pressure, bribes, or military action.

These individuals are part of the Israeli settler movement, which seeks to move Jewish people into the West Bank and Gaza in order to have Jewish control over as much land as possible. The settlements that have been built on Palestinian land since 1967 have caused economic hardship and restricted the freedom of all Palestinians who live in these areas. Violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinians is quite common.

I believe that settlers should not steal Palestinian land in order to build homes for themselves. I believe that settlers should not destroy Palestinian shops, farmlands, and homes in order to frighten them into leaving. I believe that settlers are standing in the way of peace, because their settlements break up the Palestinian territories into non-contiguous chunks of land that cannot possibly make up a real nation. I have had opinions on the subject since I began studying Middle Eastern politics over two years ago, but I was never forced to deal with these people directly until May 15 of this year.

On that day, a group of settlers descended upon a former Israeli military base that directly borders the adventure recreation center where I work (The Jack Forrest Adventure Gardens). The group’s stated purpose was to start a new Jewish settlement on the land, because they wanted to prevent the Palestinians from building a children’s hospital on the same spot. A number of Palestinians and internationals gathered in the area to see what the Israeli Army would do in response. After all, there were signs posted on the road leading to the area that inform Israeli citizens that their presence is illegal in the area (since it is a Palestinian town). The army did nothing. Eventually, the settlers left on their own, but they promised to come back.

They have come back over a dozen times since that initial foray into our lives, and they show no signs of stopping. They have stated their intentions to start a settlement in a number of right-wing websites and newspapers. Each time they come, the settlers spray paint the base with racist and nationalist graffiti, hang some Israeli and right-wing flags, and leave. Each time, we paint over the graffiti, remove the flags, and leave.

Until recently, the only direct contact we have had with the settlers occurred when a small group showed up and attempted to prevent the children in our summer camp from entering the gardens. When I tried to introduce myself to the leader of the group (Women in Green), she refused to shake my hand, saying that her religion forbade her from touching men, and walked away. We have learned that their group has sent letters to various government ministries, accusing Paidia International Development (the organization I work for) of bringing left-wing activists and anarchists to fight against Jews and of working toward the destruction of Israel.

Our last two encounters with the settlers were more directly confrontational. The first occurred about a month ago, and began with a group of internationals and Palestinians painting over settler graffiti from the week before. A group of about 70 teenagers came onto the site and started shouting at us to leave, that the land was only for Jews. They threw at least one paintbrush and a rock at us when we ignored them and continued to paint. The soldiers who were present just watched. Rather than risking injury, we decided to abandon our painting project.

The second encounter began with an ecumenical prayer and worship service. The former military base is located next to ruins of a Byzantine church, so the base seemed an appropriate location. We knew in advance that the settlers would be holding an event that evening, and we thought we might get kicked out early in the night. We decided, however, that some prayer is better than none, and we went ahead with our plans for the service. Approximately thirty internationals and Palestinians gathered to pray, sing songs, and talk together about our longing for peace and justice in this land.

Sometime in the middle of our service, the settlers decided that they did not want us there anymore. A dozen children put themselves in the middle of our group and started chanting nationalist slogans as we tried to sing. The soldiers sensed trouble was brewing and lined themselves up between our group and the main group of settlers. Their “efforts” to keep the settlers away from us proved futile, and we were overrun by 100 or so angry settlers who pushed, hit, kicked and prodded us back into a corner. At one point, the leader of the group, who had previously refused to shake my hand because her religion forbade her to touch men, shoved me in the chest and stomach and shouted at me in Hebrew. The English speaking settlers shouted at us to “go back to Europe” and “get off Jewish land.” One man taunted our minister for his belief in Jesus, saying “if he comes back, we’ll kill him again.”

Now I have real enemies. They make no bones about what they think of me, and since they want to destroy my work, deport me, and ruin the lives of my friends, I have no problem labeling them as my enemies. I can say that as a follower of Jesus, he never said not to have enemies; he just said to love them. Now I just have to figure out how.

In the aftermath of these confrontations with the settlers, a couple friends and I sat together and talked about the idea of praying for our enemies. We decided we wanted to pray for the individual settlers with whom we have interacted. It was our hope that by praying for them, we would begin to see them as individuals, and not just as the angry mob; that our wrath and anger would be tempered by God’s love. I haven’t done it yet.

I have tried, but with limited success. To actually look at a picture of someone who hates me and ask God to bless that person - to fill them with His love, and to do it without an agenda - is a tall, tall order. To respond to taunts of “Jew-Hater,” “Euro-Trash,” and “Nazi” with blessings seems downright unreasonable. In fact, I have found that I usually end up day-dreaming about ways to “get” the settlers when I sit down to pray for them, and before I know it, I’m angrier than when I started.

I believe part of the answer lies in one of the most incredible realizations that I have made since I moved to Palestine. A cultural realization that has shed light on what it means to follow Jesus: Christianity is a communal religion. Many of us in the west have grown up in a culture that stresses our individuality at the expense of our commonality. This feature of western civilization is relatively unique in the history of humanity. By nature, humans are communal beings, and the longer I live here, and see the community orientation of Middle Eastern culture, the more I realize that Jesus commands are not meant for me. They are meant for us. Let me write out the love your enemies passage again, but this time using the only second person plural we have in English, one that is native to my home state of Texas.

Y’all have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell y’all: Love y’alls enemies and pray for those who persecute y’all, that y’all may be sons of your Father in heaven. (emphasis and pronouns mine)

When I try to sit alone, and pray for my enemy, it does not work. When brothers and sisters in Christ sit together to pray for our enemies, the effect is much more powerful. If I see my friend, who was offended and hurt the same as I was, pouring out his heart in prayer for the one who hurt him, how can I withhold forgiveness? If I hear words of love and blessing all around me, how can I daydream about revenge? It may not cleanse my soul of bitterness. It may not make me into the kind of person who can, like Jesus, ask for forgiveness for my tormentors. But it will put me on the path of following in Jesus’ footsteps by opening my heart to forgiveness.
I am not certain that I have found the answer. I am certain that it will not be easy. But I believe that this aspect of Palestinian culture has helped me understand the instructions given in 1st century Palestine to lead me in my attempts to live as a follower of Jesus in today’s Palestine."

22 October 2008

"Oklahoma....that sounds exciting!" (and some other stuff)

Last night someone actually said that to me. "Wow, Oklahoma, that sounds exciting!" That is the first, and i venture to say the last, time that someone will ever make that statement about Oklahoma. This particular woman said that it inspired all kinds of warm, country, down home thoughts. well...I suppose that is true. those kinds of thoughts do come with Oklahoma, but excitement and fun? Probably not the first thing that comes to mind.

Although sometimes the first things that comes to mind are not always the best. Take my most recent example. About 30 minutes ago I was at the hair salon to get my bangs trimmed a bit. I was chatting away to Rachel, my 'stylist', and the following sentence actually came out of my mouth "so, have you been busy all up in here" seriously. I said that. "...busy all up in here" what in the world was I thinking? Clearly I wasn’t because if I had thought for just a few moments and not said the first thing that came to mind, that particular sentence would not have come out. It created a rather awkward, albeit slightly humorous, few moments as Rachel tried to merely answer the question without bursting out laughing. which she did anyway at which I turned beat red and said i had not idea where that came from. Stupid first thought.

I have had some more normal thoughts lately though. Probably because with this ridiculous Victorian ailment that has kept me homebound for the last week and a half, i have had nothing to do but think. In the past 7 days I have left the house 3 times. But as of this morning, I am officially cleared to go out in public again. I am no longer confined to my couch. Although becoming a couch potato did have its benefits. For instance, I have caught up on all the episodes I missed of The O.C. and One Tree Hill. I had never actually watched either of those shows before, but now I am strangely sucked in. Sad I know, but what else was there to do?

Nothing, except think. And think I did. and slept and wrote and ate. but mostly I thought. and as a result I have some 'confessions' as it were. They are as follows:

1. I call Rhys obsessively. Not in the ‘I am jealous and must know where you are at all times’ kind of way, but more the ‘I still cant believe you actually married me, I love you so much I want to talk to you all the time’ kind of way. But it’s still obsessive. For example, Friday and Monday I stayed home. I didn’t leave the house at all those days. I called Rhys a total of 14 times in those 2 days. And if that wasn’t excessive enough, it's not even an accurate estimate because it doesn’t account for the number of times I called him from the house phone. So yes, obsessive. (as a side note, he does call me too! Just so I don’t look too pathetic)

2. I have no idea where I want to live. Watching the O.C. makes me want to live in Southern California. Gilmore Girls makes me want to live in small town Connecticut. Looking at apartments make me want to live in San Francisco. Movies make me want to live in London, talking to friends makes me want to live in London. Looking at houses makes me want to live in Fayetteville. Rugby, mini rugby and baby Welsh kit makes me want to live in Cardiff. See? I really have no idea. I know what you are thinking; you are sick and have watched too many cheesy teen shoes. True, but haven’t I reached that stage where I should know? Friends of mine have bought houses, people have children, my friends have families and are putting down roots for goodness sake. But me? I am still floating along, dreaming of a town where I can walk in the sunshine, ride my bike with a wicker basket on front, get fresh veggies from the farmers market, go to a show, have a pint at the local pub, sit out by the beach and say to hi to everyone that passes because I know everyone in town and watch all the rugby I want. Pretty much I just combined all the things that I like about the aforementioned cities into one, which probably doesn’t exist. So what do I do then? I still have no idea. And I feel very strongly that I am past that age where I should be equally clueless and influenced by The O.C!

3. Which brings me to confession three. I am idealistic to a fault. I get an idea in my head, think it is logical, and fight for it to become reality. Most of the time its not realistic or logical. and most of the time i choose to ignore that completely and recklessly pursue my goals and dreams that are always a bit far out of reach. Of course its good to set goals, and every one has their dreams. But believing that the lottery is a viable way to build a future? probably not the smartest. thing is, some days i really believe that! I tend to convince myself that the craziest things could actually happen. I am still waiting for Rhys to come home one day and say we are moving to Australia. So I guess the real confession is that my idealism sometimes gets in the way of living real life. I push so hard for the idea of fun and fancy free that sometimes the normal and mundane seem unbearable. Someone once told me I needed to find the balance in life. At the time I told him he was stupid and didn’t know what he was talking about. But he was right. Balance is something I have never been good which is really unfortunate as it is such a crucial part of everyday life.

4. I want to be a rock chick/loner/hippie. I am not sure if you can really combine all of those, but if you can, that is the personae I want. Married, working in the corporate world, aged 26 creates a bit of a problem for an entire recreation of person, but if I could i would become a rock chick/hippie. Think a mixture of a female Eric Clapton, UK x-factor Diana, bits of Nicole Ritchie, and a little bit of early Alanis Morissette. Enter the new Kristina. I would be a long haired, guitar playing, off beat, tattooed rocker. how long does it take to get dreadlocks? Long enough for me to learn to play the guitar?

5. I am a VERY unhealthy eater. I try to pretend I am not, but I am. I eat crap. Sometimes, when Rhys makes me, I eat vegetables. But that is rare. I know I should eat a better variety, I keep saying I am going to change. But I never do. I still eat crap. I still hate vegetables.

They always say the first step in fixing a problem is admitting you have one. So I am admitting it all here. I call Rhys obsessively, I often choose to not live in reality, I am 26 and still have no idea what to do or where to live, I am easily influenced by T.V. shows, I want to be a hippie and I eat crap food. Ah! So much better. Now to change the world….

14 October 2008

the good and bad of the weekend

This weekend was both fantastic and hellishly awful. It all started when I ran into a door. A few nights ago night Rhys shut the bathroom door for some unknown reason. we never shut the bathroom door. ever. I was really, really tired and decided right before I was about to go to bed that I needed to use the bathroom. you can see where this is going. I was half walking, half limping, half asleep stumbling along to the bathroom on the route I know very well. and smack. right into the bathroom door. not to be a baby, but it really hurt. that bathroom experience is second only to the time that Rhys left the toilet seat up. I got up in the middle of the night and actually fell into the toilet. it was not nice. i did not enjoy. I screamed and promptly ran into the bedroom to wake him up and tell him of my disgust. he laughed, a lot.

In spite of that, by Friday evening it was looking to be one of the best weekends in a long time. I had a great run Friday evening, 7 miles at a good pace. Friday is pizza night for the Williams Team and my Texas B-B-Q pizza was fantastic. Saturday morning I was up bright and early to meet Kym in Camden. I love Camden. it has been one of my favourite places in London since I moved here. Its like a giant mix of a flea market, state fair and punk rock show. There are more pot smoking, mohawk wearing, facial piercing, tattoo covered, pink haired, dreadlocked men and women in one concentrated place than any other place I have ever seen in the world. its fantastic. we had a starbucks by the lock, then a venture around the market, followed by some super cheap Chinese food in a metal tin. 4 hours later i took the tube back home. Aside from loving Camden, i love Kym. It was great to chat with a fellow Arkansas-an. Home life, people we both know and thoughts we shared about life back in America. More than anything is was refreshing to see that there is someone else out there who shares my thoughts, almost exactly, about life in London and life back home. it was good for my heart and my mind.

*to digress briefly, I must mention that around this time i started noticing it was hard to breath. I figured it was all the smoke and didn’t take a lot of notice, despite the fact that I was coughing and wheezing...

Saturday was also a beautifully sunny warm day. fantastic. Went down to the pitch to watch the Fullers. So many lovely friends along the side lines to chat to. not to mention I had my first try of lime and Kronenbourg. strange, but at least worth a try. I hate to say it but, of course, the Fullers lost. That evening we bypassed the normal pub party as I had the Royal Parks Half Marathon on Sunday. I had been looking forward to this race for months. I had trained, and whilst i did get distracted about 2 months into my training, i was still really excited.

Shoes on, running clothes ready, caught the train at the right time, went to the bathroom, had water, all set. I ran the first 8 miles at a pace which would have seen me finish in 1:42. that would have been a great time! just slightly over 7:30 minute miles. Sadly, it was not meant to be. Not only were my lungs having a strangely difficult time, but at mile 8 and a quarter, my knee popped and I fell over. Just fell right over on the ground. Ricey, a friend who ran it as well came along, picked me up and helped me to the medic tent. I had my knee wrapped, went against their advice and decided to try to finish it. I half-limped, half drug my leg across the finish line. In a sad, sad time of 2:17. At least i finished...but. then started feeling even worse. I couldn’t decide if it was my knee or my crushed spirit at finishing the race in my worst time ever. and not just my worst time ever, my worst time by 20 minutes!! Still, I couldnt shake the sick feeling plus I wasn’t really recovering from the race like I should have been, so off I went to the doctor.

What began with the makings of being one of the greatest weekends in a long time ended with pneumonia. thats right, pneumonia. I cant say that I was really expecting that result but what i thought was just a cold a few weeks ago had managed to settle in my lungs and give me the joyous result of the early stages of pneumonia. that is something that people got in the 1800's. or at least something that only old people get. apparently i get it too. pneumonia. really?! at least the weather was nice all weekend.

10 October 2008

collared shirts, guns and roses and my office.

I have always had somewhat of a love affair with collared shirts. I think it goes back to the age where I first started imitating my brother. He is 3 years and 9 months older than me which meant that anything he did was perfect. It also meant that as a young girl I liked some pretty bizarre things. The first day of fifth grade, which puts me about around 9 years old, we all went around the room and said our name, favourite colour and favourite song. While most had responses such as Spice Girls or Boyz II Men, I said 'my name is Kristina, my favourite colour is blue and my favourite song is November Rain by Guns and Roses' Yeah, not your typical 9 year old girl response.

Those kinds of A-typical attitudes continued on through out my younger years. It quickly translated onto my love of collared shirts. If my brother wore it then it mean I wanted to. I used only wear polo's or button downs. Why I thought that was a good idea I'm not sure. Looking back at some of the pictures I think really? I look like a boy! Not hard to see why since I based my style off of my older brother But I guess we all have our foolish moments. * The realisation of my lack of style resulted in a short hiatus from the wearing of collared shirts. The last few years I can count the number of times I have worn polo's and/or a button down on one hand.

Recently I have returned to my first love and have started wearing collared shirts again. Today I am wearing a light blue and white stripped, three-quarter sleeved, button down shirt. The top is a mock collar with a little ruffle around the top. Down the front, to about mid-stomach level are little ruffles along each side of the buttons. Very stylish and girly, quite a change from the manly collared shirt of my younger years. So girly in fact that one of the guys from my office said, and I quote, "you are looking very girly today"

Interesting thing is that is the only thing they see is the girly-ness of me. It is safe to say that the general population of the upstairs portion of my office thinks that I am useless. Now you might be thinking, really? useless? are you sure that is not just a Kristina exaggeration? Well, its not. I know this for two main reasons. 1) They treat me like crap all the time. 2) The one nice guy upstairs has told me that they think I am useless, and that they say so often. Not a lot of room for doubt there. At this point you might also be thinking, 'Well Kristina, are you really effective when you blog at work so much? Doesn’t that kind of make you useless?' And the answer is no, it does not. I do loads of work, when there is loads to do. But I do what is necessary, unquestionably. The reason they think I am useless is because I refuse to be their gofer/slave/secretary and do all the crap things they don’t want to do. (i.e. ‘can you be a doll and run along and post this for me?’) Also, because they are sexist and racist; they don’t like women, or blacks, or Asians, or really anyone that is not a white male who smokes enough to be mistaken for a chimney. At the end of the day it wouldn't matter what I did, they would still think me useless.

I am the 'girly downstairs' or the 'cute receptionist' (insert any other sexist, degrading and condescending comment here. I am sure I have heard it) So today, with ruffled shirt and 'girly' looks, the thought occurred to me. I don't care. I used to spend at least one day every couple of weeks crying in the bathroom. I avoided them at all costs, I would hide if I saw them coming, I acquiesced to one too many demands and complained to my husband on a daily basis about the horrid attitudes of the upstairs folk. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn't matter in the slightest since I can do nothing about it, but simply rise above it, hold my head high and move on. And it is definitely time to move on. Yes, I am a girl, but I am also unique. I was Slash from Guns and Roses for Halloween one year, I spent News Years Eve at a Poison Tribute concert, I met my husband watching rugby whilst touring around New Zealand, I could spend hours shopping every day and I am well read and well educated. The need for this self-encouraging pep talk? Because no matter what they say upstairs, or how much more I enjoy fashion and dressing up, it doesn’t take away from the fact that I am unique, I am different. It is probably true that I owe a lot of that to the years I spent following my brother around; but I have finally grown into myself.

I distinctly remember sitting on the plane on my way back from Europe in 2004. I was distraught to say the least. I didn't want to leave. I wrote in my journal that I couldn’t understand why I was leaving, why in the world I had actually gotten on that plane. I wanted to stay, I wanted to explore, and I was ready to break out on my own. Four years later, here I am. On my own (well, my own with a husband) living in Europe, being girly, working in the corporate world and still listening to Poison. And I love it. So welcome back love affair with collared shirts. I will proudly wear you in a girly fashion, knowing that I am not useless but in fact quite effective in any number of ways. I will rise above your condescending remarks and negative approach to life office people! I will act with kindness regardless for I know who I am. Why it took a collared shirt to help me move past the immaturity of my office, I just don’t know. But I am glad I choose to wear ruffles today!

* It must be mentioned that my foolish moments resulting from my brother were not just limited to close. Once he told me that he would come and play My Little Ponies with me. Around lunch time he told me to just sit in my room and he would be in shortly. So I did. And I waited and waited and waited. Finally, around the time the sun started to go down, my mother came in and found me sitting alone, in the dark. She asked what in the world I was doing to which I replied that since my brother had told me to sit here and wait that is exactly what I was going to do! Really what he did was simply remove me from the scene all day. He could play and do whatever he wanted without his dorky little sister hanging around because I was just sitting in my room, like an adoring fool.

9 October 2008

Britney I'm Sorry....

Singer/songwriter Bebo Norman has written a 'Come Back' song for (and about) Britney Spears. Being one of her biggest (closet) fans, it was both touchy and depressing. Granted I am slightly more emotional than the average person, but you have to have a heart of stone to not be at least slightly moved by Bebo's words.

"Britney I'm sorry for this cruel cruel world, we sell the beauty but destroy the girl...Britney I'm sorry for your broken heart, we stood aside and watched you fall apart"

I tried desperatly to post the You Tube video that was put together for this song but I am so inept at anything relating to more than Word that all my attemps failed. Whilst it would have been much more effective, not to mention moving, to have the video on this site, it is definelty worth an additional trip to You Tube to see it.

little bits of excitment

Lately its the small things that are making me smile. I really think the weather has more to do with it than anything else. 96 hours of sunshine for an entire month made everything seem nearly unbearable. I cant give the exact hours of sunshine for the month of September, but I can tell you that it was more that 96! And October is already looking brighter. In line with my cheery mood comes, again, happiness from the small thigns. usually I am more aware of the big, truly significant things that happen: birth of a baby, a friend trying church for the first time, a much need job for a desperate family, those types of things. But there is more than just that. There are small, material pleasures that can bring a smile too! So to celebrate all the tiny things that bring me bits of joy, I have included some pictures and comments of a few of the most enjoyable things at the moment.

-Absolutely NO traffic on the M25 the past 3 days in a row!!

-Socks that look identical to the latest spring/fall design at J.Crew except these were £1 instead of $28!! Bargain!

-A fadded, pea green coloured jacket!! I have had my eyes on this lovely, army green, big button, adorable little pea coat for a good two months now. Sadly, it simply couldn't be found in my size. At least twice I week I would check- stores where I lived, stores where I worked, stores on Oxford street...never. But then, oh glory of glory, it was there. My size. And it fit perfectly! Thankfully, I am now the proud owner of the coat pictured below. Fashion at £30.

- JalapeƱo and Mediterranean Olive Oil Humus.... it is like a little piece of heaven right there on my lips. Personally i like to eat the humus with Ryvita Thins, wheat flavour or Tortilla Chips. Really this little packet of tasty goodness would go perfectly with anything.

- My new jeans! I found these Diesel jeans on sale for £10!! That is a steal whatever currency you use! They are my very first pair of skinny jeans. I have only actually worn them twice, but I am slowly warming to the idea. Like the pea coat, this purchased caused quite a big smile as it was a new pair of jeans (which I needed) and designer (which I did not need) and they were only £10! I have begun thinking that perhaps there is a future for me in being a personal fashion consultant. Bargin shopping, desinger, dressing for your body type... ah, I digress. Here are the jeans, mine are a shade lighter but the same style.

-Sheyenne. We were friends in high school, and have recently re-kindled our friendship. Even though it has probably been the best part of 8 years since we have spoken, there is something strangely comforting about being friends again. So when you read this Sheyenne, I think you're great!

-Ok, this is not something I actually have, but still something that has been making me smile a lot lately. A tiny, little Volkswagen Beetle! I would love one! Look how cute they are.

-As I am a big fan of Etsy, I have recently purchased some cards that I think are absolutley fantastic-in a werid sense of humor kind of way. Here is a small sampling of the cards...

and this wonderful grouping of 'if you were...' animal cards. In particular I like the one that says 'If you were an octopus, I would grow eight arms to hold you'

-Last but certaintly not least...the SUN! It has been gloriously bright and warm-ish for the last 4 days. Granted, bits of rain here and there, but amazingly sunny and bright!! Wonderful.

7 October 2008

new discoveries

I have discovered or re-discovered several things this morning.

1. I really enjoy the taste of Dr. Pepper. To be more specific, Dr. Pepper Zero. I think I should start drinking it more often. It reminds me of childhood and trips to Arby's

2. Along with my new found enjoyment of Dr. Pepper Zero, I have also discovered the ingredients of said drink: Carbonated water, caramel flavourings, phosphoric acid, aspartame, preservative 112 and 'a source of phenylalanine'. I heard one time that if you cannot pronounce one or more things in a product you are intending to consume, then it is best to NOT consume it and find something else. I think that my new found joy of Dr. Pepper, however fond the memories it evokes, will be very short lived. However, I will most definitely finish this can.

3. I am now at a stage in my life where I have to wear hose. Yes, that’s right. Even the word is strange and old woman-y. But it’s true. Today I bought several packages of hose and one pair of tights. I was tempted to buy the charcoal gray, thick cotton t-shirt like pair of tights (they came in a tempting shade of orange as well) but I finally came to my senses and realised I would never, ever wear them. So instead I bought 5 very sensible pairs of natural coloured hose and a pair of light brown tights. In case you are thinking that 5 sounds like a large number, its only because whilst I am at a stage in which I need to wear hose, I am not actually at a stage in my life where I am careful enough to do so. I anticipate all 5 pairs lasting less than a month.

4. I am really glad I don’t live in Middle America. It has taken me a long time to really discover this and truly accept it. This morning I have really grasped it. Yes, there was a catalyst to this realisation but my blog is probably not the best forum to discuss that. So just accept that this morning was the defining turning point in this discovery. Even though I miss certain things like Stef, Tara, Loafin Joe’s and the general 'feel' of Fayetteville, I am overjoyed that it will never be my home again. You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach, the one where you think 'arugh, really? There? Those people?' Unfortunately that is what most of Middle America holds for me. There is disgust at seeing/remembering certain attitudes/people and the utter joy and relief when I realise it will never be like that again.

5. This next 'discovery' really ties into the previous one. I have recently discovered that it really is our choice how we interact with people. For example, I strongly dislike some of the people that I work with. But it is my choice how I choose to react to that. If I am kind, it wont change a single thing about their life or personality, but it will change my life. If I treat them with respect and kindness (even though most of the time I think they are all jack-asses) then at the end of the day I can say that I behavied properly. The same goes for all people we come into contact with. It doesn’t matter if they live like we do, dress like we do, believe in the same things. They are all worthy of respect. I have really 'discovered' this in my heart and am striving to live by the principle.

6. And the most recent of my discoveries is that I should never eat peanut butter whilst typing. I was eating an apple and Jif extra crunchy peanut butter at my desk for my afternoon snack (I eat a lot) and a little dollop of my Jif fell onto my keyboard and got stuck between the E and R, thus making them stick together and not push down properly. Unfortunate as E and R are to of the most commonly used letters in words.

6 October 2008

Dear News Media,

I hate you. You are a sell out. I know, I know, its seems a bit harsh but its the truth. I don’t expect you to fully understand that statement as nothing you seem to expel is actually the truth. Most people take everything you say or write as the God's honest, no denying, very much a fact, truth. Sadly, I do not. There used to be a few that channels of yours that I could watch without wanting to pluck my eyes out, or a few newspapers I could read without wanting to slam my head into a wall. That number is decreasing dramatically as we speak. Fox, CNN, BBC, Sky, The New York Times, The Mail (on Sunday, cause that is the only time I buy) and especially the Metro and the London Paper. Technically those last two don’t really count because they are more morning tabloid trash with only a bit of readable, valid news. It’s amazing to me that you get away with it. Where are the indigent consumers who want the truth?

I don’t know where everyone else is, but I am here, and I am annoyed. Annoyed doesn’t seem strong enough. I am incensed, hacked off, frustrated, irate, irritated, exasperated and (my favourite) cheesed off! That’s right, I have had it with your bitter, negative diatribe of the world. Whether its the economy crashing or Britney Spears gaining a few pounds (gasp!) I. can. not. handle. it. This must stop and it must stop now!

I often think that the current economic crisis is your fault. Perhaps I shouldn’t put all the blame onto you. I say 60/40, no 70/30... at least 70/30 your fault to actual fiscal problems. There is always drama with you. It seems like no one has ever mentioned it before but no one likes a drama queen! Every ebb and flow of society, whether it’s a footballer salary or a credit crunch doesn’t need to be reported with such ghastly exaggerated detail. And on that note, why do you insist on coming up with those annoyingly clever little names for everything? Credit Crunch, High Street Hanging, Bail-Out Bill....have you ever thought that it is those cutesy little names that make the problem seem more evident, more real and hence more lingering? Not to mention they are annoying. Why cant you just call it an economic change, a shift in money interests... I hold you responsible for the crashing of the stock market and the folding of the banks.

Ok, I realise there is actually a real economic problem and you, as the media, do have some what of a responsibility to relay information to the public. But couldn’t it be in a more realistic, less tainted, dramatic way? Everyone has an opinion, but what happened to unbiased journalism? What happened to the plain and simple truth? Sadly, I feel you have strayed from your roots. you have sold out. Your papers and T.V. channels seem to be more about pomp and circumstance rather than hard facts; news as reality T.V. rather than an accurate portrayal of real life. Its sad because its all we have. You seem much more concerned with entertainment and the making a buck than with actually telling the public the news! I thought that is what you were suppose to be about?! News! No way around it. You are a sell out.

My indigent letter to you will not change a thing. No matter how much I personify you, you are still a giant, blood sucking, cut throat, money minded, corporate organisation. Nothing me, as the little man, has to say will make a difference. But just so you know, when I win the £192 million up in the lottery, I will buy one of you, maybe Sky or Fox. And I will change you. I will go back to real journalism; slowly I will invade your corrupt and annoyingly dramatic organisations until I have infiltrated all of you like a deadly virus. I will report things openly, plainly and truthfully. Whether they realise it now or not, the world will welcome the change. And I will be glad to finally be rid of you, you lying media fear-mongerer.



free spirited window washer

There is a fine line between reflective, contemplative thinking and inhumane, crippling analysis. Somewhere between those two extremes I have come to the conclusion that its ok to be a window washer. Not that I particularly want to be a window washer, but a dear, dear friend of mine told me about her friend who intentionally chose to be a window washer because it got him outside, in the sun with flexible working hours. He didn’t care that random people often gave him scornful looks and well meaning, but snobbish, folk encouraged him to keep looking as he would find a better job someday. This man was well aware of what he wanted in life: enough money to make a living, but not a living that was consumed by work. I now want to be a window washer.

ok, what I really mean is I want to be ok with being a window washer. I have no career goals. I aspire to do nothing. (read: not work for 'the man' but instead be able to do what I want) I want to be a mom. The kind of mom that makes her kids things, paints the house funny colours when the husband is at work, mows the lawn and continually embarrasses the kids, but in a good way. Like, 'gosh, i cant believe my mom is refusing to wear shoes and growing dreadlocks again' or 'Hey Johnny, where is your mom tonight? Oh, she and my dad went to the Metallica concert...' Yeah that’s a cool mom. and its ok. Well, maybe not ok that I want to have dreadlocks and go see Metallica, but ok that I don’t want a career. I would be content to work at Starbucks, or in a book store or try to make a living selling things on Esty. In theory. In theory I would be content to do those things, but in reality I have too much pride. and it's not the good kind either. The pride that says 'well done Rhys, you played so well in your rugby game today' but the pride that says 'oh, really? she works there? she does that?' Damn that pride.

The year before I got married, I worked at a preschool during school hours and Starbucks in the evening. I loved them both. I loved the kids, making crafts, meeting people, making coffee...but I was always quick to tell people that it was only temporary. Conversations often went like this....

Person: So what do you do?
Me: I work at a perschool and starbucks
person: oh, that’s nice. (insert scornful expression and very evident disdain in voice)
Me: Yeah, I am getting married in August and just saving money. I am moving to London.
Person: Oh! London! Wow! (insert pleased expression and much nicer tone of voice)
Me: yeah, I have a Masters degree and was thinking of getting my PhD...

Or something equally as snotty and unnecessary..... Why did I do it? Because I felt Starbucks and the preschool were somehow inadequate and I needed to make up for it? Because I wanted to impress a complete stranger? Because I wanted people to think 'oh, she is so cool'? Sadly its a mixture of all of those. And that makes it even worse!

So where does that leave me? I still despise my job. But I now have two options. One, stay here and look at it for what it is- a way to get paid doing whatever i want during the day whilst only occasionally having to answer the phone and pay an invoice. Or I can quit. Quit to do something that I want without concern for what others might say. So what if I want to work as an assistant in an art gallery, or as a barista or as a bike messenger (nod to Trev) All of those things are ok as long as they fund the 3 The's of my life: The rent, The baby fund, and The travel account. If Rhys and I have a roof over our heads, savings for babies and for travel that should be sufficient. All the rest shouldn't matter.

I am of the belief that you can be fiscally savvy as well as world traveller. Throw Mom into the mix and its perfect. And reasonable. People have always said that I am a free spirit, a dreamer, an idealist. But why do those things come with slightly negative connotations? Can’t you be a dreamer and still somewhat responsible? I believe the answer is yes. Hopefully what all this means, or at least is starting to mean, is that I am free to do what I enjoy, free to not have a career...free to be a window washer.

the best kids in the entire world!!

this is Mikey and Natalie, my niece and nephew, at the Tulsa State Fair. Look how adorable they are!! I miss them so much!!

3 October 2008

so i was thinking....

Several things. One: I have yet again changed my blog. Partly because I am that bored at work, and partly because, well, I feel I need to be more 'adult-ish and grown up' My new blog title and picture more accurately portray that.

Two: I am going to write a book. I have so many ideas and since I write about 45% of my time anyway...well I might as well. Except I am too scared to send anything off to a publisher. But I am going to. I am tired of waiting. I have read some crap books in my time. I know I could write a more interesting one than some that are out there. So no more fear, no more procrastination. I am writing a book.

Now....what to write about? I have about 8 billion ideas in my head. (Yes, literally 8 billion) So I asked my ever supportive and realistic husband if I should write a book, and if so, then about what. This is what followed:

K: Why can’t I write a book? I really want to!
R: You can. Just write and write and write and then send it off to a publisher
K: Ok. What should I write about?
R: How about space monkeys who come to earth and steal all the bananas...
K: Umm....any other ideas?
R: Space....
K: NOT having to do with space?
R: Super bears who...
K: Uh, thanks. I think I am ok.

With my husbands support, but none of his ideas, I have decided to quit my job and write full time. I will spend my days in coffee shops and trendy bars, drinking espresso and half pints, whilst typing away on my stylish new Mac. Or that is what I would do in my dream world. Instead I will sit at my desk, making the most of my hideous job in which I do nothing, by writing chapter after chapter of my book. I will have to be content with my 4 year old Dell work computer as I don’t actually own a Mac, nor have the money to buy one.

I have narrowed my options down to two potential topics: One, the ever faithful travel book for couples. This idea has been persistent to reside in my head for about a year. I am convinced there is a market for this and whilst the first publisher I pitched the idea to was not fond, I am sure someone out there will jump at the chance. Two, 'Somewhere between New Zealand and Arkansas--Discovering life through a backpack’ (should I include Chaco’s in there?) Ok, so the title is a bit rough, but the idea is a mix of travel book/spiritual growth/love story/drama/humour/everything/random essays all rolled into one. The way I see it, the book covers everything. It is not a novel as much as it is a travelling circus show of random events and sporadic life lessons*. Have I sold it? No? Then think of it like this, a book that delivers life in a real yet slightly off colour, humorous way. Not that I think my life is so fantastic that I need to write about it, but I have had some crazy ridiculous experiences, and as I live it everyday, my life is what I know best.

I have pitched the idea to some of my more accomplished, academic friends, they seem to like it. Whilst none of those friends who are published are willing to give up the contact details for their publishers yet, they have all been supportive and quite eager to read the first few chapters. That gives me hope. Up until this point the only thing of significant value I have written are a few articles for no name, Arkansas historical journals and my Masters thesis (which was only published in New Zealand) But its never too late to start.

So off I go, embarking on my new adventure. If those small handful of you who read this think it is stupid and a waste of time as you want to pull out your hair and gouge your eyes out every time you read the blog, let me know. Otherwise, I will write away. Naturally my blog will still be full of all the mundane details of my daily life that I know are so thrilling to everyone. But hopefully it will also contain little snippets of my new (and obviously very profound) book.

And, to sandwich this post nicely, everyone can enjoy my new, grown up blog appearance. Because at the end of the day, everything I post is really about what I was thinking....

*is it wrong to describe my life as 'as a travelling circus show of random events and life lessons? does that make me sad and carnie-like?

the tiny cup of life

Somehow, over the last few months I have become very dependent upon the liquid that comes in this tiny little cup. I always said I would never be one of those people that needed coffee. But sadly, I am. I need my two little espresso shots in the morning. Need though is a very strong word. Funnily enough, I choose not to change my word usage. I need it. The gorgeous, bubbling hot, foamy liquid that comes in that small glorious cup is what puts me on my way each morning. I have accepted that it is more a mental necessity than anything, but I am a creature of habit in certain areas. And this is one.

2 October 2008


This was my lunch. and it was more than delicious. a little slice of heaven to be eaten with chopsticks. yum.

1 October 2008

585,440 minutes

That is as close as I can come to the time frame of exactly how long i have lived in the UK. 13 months, 11 days and about 4 hours. When does it feel like home? When do I stop comparing the US and the UK? This morning I drove my parents to the airport. Brand new Terminal 5. After a tearful goodbye, lots of hugs, and a 15 minute argument with the gate worker trying to get out of the car park (I won, it was free!) I started my drive into the office. and the tears fell freely down my checks. Not so much because I was saying goodbye to my parents, I will see them in another 7 weeks for Thanksgiving, but more because they are going home. Home to America.

On the one hand, I have had many fantastically wonderful moments about living abroad. So many unique and blessed experiences have presented themselves that would not have even been an option had my first year of marriage been in the states. That is true for us as a couple as well as individuals; Rhys would not have been able to continue playing rugby at such a high level, we wouldn’t have been to Spain twice in less than a year, I would not know the joys of Camden Town and free, albeit slightly shady, Chinese food. So many great things about living here.

On the other hand, I have experienced the overwhelming sense of loneliness that comes with the transition from citizen to ex-pat. The idea of living abroad in an thrilling, exotic location is often more exciting in theory than in reality. It is that strange pit in my stomach that comes when I realise that I just said 'pants' and everyone thinks I mean underwear; or the anger that rises up like a slow, burning flame when people tell me I should just say I am Canadian because no one likes Americans anyway, or the funny knot in my throat and slight glimmer of a tear drop in my eye when its 10.30 at night and I really want a bottle of chocolate milk, a Q-tip, peanut butter and some wheat thins yet have no place to buy them because all the stores are closed and even if they were open, half of those things are not even sold in the UK. It's the strange feeling of always having a funny accent, never quite knowing the appropriate cloths for the right situation and thinking, probably more often than i should, "well in America...."

I wouldn't trade one minute of the roughly 585,440 minutes that I have lived in the UK. it has been an experienced that has shaped me in ways I probably wont even begin to understand for years and years. Perhaps it is my parents recent trip that has made me more aware of the differences. Perhaps it is the fact that I hate my job possibly more than anything else in the whole world and all my friends in the US seem to love what they do. Not that it means there is a direct correlation between America and having a good job, but in my head that is exactly what it means. A few months back I wrote about being aware of the expectations I came with and trying to fight against those, accepting that this is a different culture and a different way of life. But maybe some of those are so engrained in me, so much a part of what i want for my future, that its hard escape them.

All of that to say that, as my time has now probably increased to 585,451 minutes in the UK, I will continue to love the great things and struggle with the hard things. Same as any person, in any country....

*as a side note: After posting the above, I went to the My Utmost for His Highest website to read the devotional for today. That was exactly what I was meant to do. Below is a small excerpt and a link. go read it. It is worth it.

"We are not made for the mountains, for sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life— those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength."