It’s an adventure.

I’ve been abroad a handful of times, but there are some variables with this trip that have me a little nervous.

One such variable is my ability/inability to pack 10 days into a single duffel bag. (I did it though and now I deserve a present. But, it has to be something I don’t have to pack.) I’ve never left so much behind.

Next, I’m travelling with three friends, two of whom are zero percent familiar with my travel quirks. The other, Kate, could write a novel on the high level of maintenance I “require.” Her familiarity, however, does not necessarily make her forgiving of my crazy. So, 10 days in close quarters with these girls and I’m sure I’ll be forced to stray from my routine. If I need to get specific, yes, I am concerned I won’t be allowed my usual 15 minutes to diffuse my hair. Or, that I won’t hear the end of when I insist on doing it anyway.

Now, these girls are not without their own necessities, so I’m hoping for a lot of give and take. But what I decided it all comes down to is that we’ll have a great time no matter what.


Except it won’t kill us.

Because two days ago I thought I lost my favorite/lucky ₤ forever, but then I found it. Then today I woke up with another headache. But then it dissipated in near-record time. And when I turned my iPod on this morning, “Inner Smile” from “Bend it Like Beckham” played first. So, I can only assume, perhaps with a little prayer here and there, that there is no way this trip won’t be spectacular!

But also, this is not a vacation.

It’s an adventure.

At least, it will be. That’s what I keep telling myself. Because cramming four countries into 10 days is no time for layabouts!

First London for a few days, then Stockholm, then Tallinn and Helsinki, then back to London. What? Rick Steves made me do it. If Rick can do it, I can do it. No, that’s wrong. Rick doesn’t travel with two iPods, an iPad and an iPhone. Rick doesn’t need at least an hour to get ready in the morning. Rick will probably eat herring for breakfast.

Rick Steves I am not, but I got this. I think the many, many hours of planning will pay off. We’ve managed a good mix of scheduled/ticketed events, flexible entry type stuff (a la a couple of handy dandy city passes), and a few spots (Just a few – 10 countries, four days, remember?) of not doing much of anything.

So, I’ve got the butterflies I get when I get to travel. The good butterflies. There are even some rare, extra fancy butterflies reserved just for England. And I LOVE that this still happens.

Even if it all goes kerflooey; if every device fails, if none of the adapters or converters work, or if they blow up in the socket like last time, it will be okay. If the weather’s shit or I can’t do my hair or the train line is down, it will be okay. More than okay. Because it’s England. And also an adventure.

~      ~      ~

Brasil 2 – England 2

LDN Tattoo

Tattoo, about five minutes after getting it.

That was for me.

In celebration of my tattoo’s birthday, also the 61st year of Her Majesty The Queen’s reign, the Three Lions drew 2-2 against the mighty Brazilians.

I have a strong disdain for teams that view a draw as a win (glaring at you, US Men’s National Team), but I think the Lions deserve a fair bit of praise for their performance in Rio yesterday. I’d go as far even to say that praise should be tipped in the direction of a win.

I mean, it’s Brazil.

And it’s not like they had their B team on the pitch. Neymar, Oscar, Hulk, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, among others all featured in the starting XI.

To be fair, we had a slightly stronger squad last night than we did against Republic of Ireland earlier in the week. Goalkeeper Joe Hart proved, once again, he’s worthy of the #1 shirt, blocking a number of shots that would have otherwise left his side with an embarrassing defeat. And I should also mention that whatever your opinion of Wayne Rooney, he’s still got it and if he’s able to settle his mind, he’s a world-class striker.

Could things be turning around for Hodgson’s boys? England have notoriously played well during in-between tournament matches, even qualifiers, but I WANT TO BELIEVE!

I should also mention, last time England met Brazil, England won.

London 2012. Blerg.

Ugh. Am I allowed to be super non-excited that the Olympics are being held in London? Does that make me a hypocrite? On the face of it, I’m sure it does, because what kind of Anglophile wouldn’t be excited about non-stop media coverage of her home away from home?

Well, this moi. And yes, I’m gonna whine about it.

Reason 1: They’re taking over my city. LocustsTourists. [Even more] commercial entities.

I’m a touch torn, I will say, because on the one hand I desperately hope the nation will be able to recoup the cash they’ve put into the event and then some, but have a feeling a lot of dollars will be spent on McDonald’s and Starbucks and not at the local chippy or coffee shop. (At least, I think it’s safe to say the margin will swing dramatically the one direction, amIright?)

I think a lot of the major historical attractions will see an influx of traffic – the Tower, Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, as well they should – but what about the REST OF ENGLAND? Or, lesser known parts of London, even? Charles Dickens’ house? The Old Vic? Camden Lock? Oooh, Brick Lane. Yeah, don’t take the kids to Brick Lane. (Unless you think they’d fetch a price…) Mixed feelings here as well, because I suspect many of those living outside of London want little to do with the Olympics, but then as it is summer and a peak travel season, there are plenty of tourist establishments in the region that would be well pleased for an increase in revenue, except London’s hoarding it all.

Part of my frustration also comes from the sheer number of first time London tourists that have descended upon the area. I must keep reminding myself that I’m glad I’m not visiting this summer. (Probably one of the only times I will ever say that.) Tourists in large cities are cumbersome in the first place, but that many first timers? Yeesh. Taxi drivers. Underground stewards. All those in the transportation industry. My prayers are with you. And I wish you many large tips!

Reason 2: The media.

These next two weeks are going to be a bit rough. With so much attention focused on London (England, even Great Britain as a whole, let’s be real, because the media won’t be able to keep focus) it will be all the more difficult to distract myself from how much I bloody miss it! What’s worse, I think, is that this attention is so, how can I describe it, commercial? Cheap? I’m not sure if I have the right term, but the feeling I have toward this whole thing is the same feeling I get toward fair-weather fans. Now I understand the Olympics are designed to occur only every so often and now it’s London’s turn in the spotlight. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that London is already such a popular place that I don’t think it needs any more spotlight??? Maybe. I’ve also ALWAYS struggled with those who love London/England/other places, etc. for the obvious and/or popular reasons. I suppose the Olympics are just another thing that make London popular and is now overshadowing so many (more worthy) qualities that make London remarkable.

I have more on the media, but I think I’ll at least let the games begin before I go into the issue of reporting on the athletics of the event versus the location and spectacle…

Reason 3: Then there’s Team GB.

It’s inexcusable that David Beckham has been left out of the Men’s Football squad. Stuart Pearce is such a disgrace that I think the IOC (yes, the international governing body, not just the British governing body) should step in to either fire the guy or order him to include Becks. I don’t care if Becks is only able to play five minutes of every game as a substitute, he brought Games to London (Yeah, so mixed feelings there. You’re on BOTH my lists, David.) and has been its number one champion. He is a living legend and a symbol of Britain and of football. He IS Team GB, but Pearce couldn’t be bothered to include him. He went with Micah Richards instead? Pitiful. Ryan Giggs, I understand; he’s Welsh and a quality player. I will never support a Manchester City player’s presence over David Beckham’s. Probably not even if said Man City player is Joe Hart, and Becks isn’t even a goalkeeper.

Of course the other, most basic piece to this issue is that Becks is still a top performing player!

So, we’re not off to a real good start.

Reason 4: As of today I still can’t access the online shop from my American IP address. I’m re-routed to Team USA’s shop. I’m not sure whose fault that is, but it’s an appalling breach of internet something… I feel like I’m being pressured to support a certain team, and that doesn’t sit right with me. I’m pro-Team USA, sure, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want a stylized Union Jack sheet set or nifty Adidas wristband. (And no, the Adidas online shop doesn’t carry them.) If anyone figures out what the eff is going on with this, please let me know. I don’t like it. I suspect Stuart Pearce is in on it somehow.

Reason 5: I’m still bitter England lost out on hosting either the 2018 or 2022 World Cups. THAT they deserved. THAT they wouldn’t have had to spend an exorbitant amount of money on to host! And. The last time football came home on the world stage, England won the damn thing. So.

Reason 6: I prefer the winter Olympics.

I’ll try to keep score with a pros and cons list and report back. Maybe I’ll prove myself wrong. I’m open to that.

Unrelated – Part III

And now I give you, the conclusion…

             When I reached for her in the morning, she was gone. I climbed out of bed, and as I passed the office, saw that Judith had taken the futon. Downstairs, the coffee had been made and a mug left on the counter for me. Even in our most brutal fights, she could remain sweet. This wasn’t one of those fights – this was barely a fight – but it didn’t diminish the gesture. It didn’t take me much longer to realize that Maggie had left the house. I lifted my jumper from the hook in the kitchen, slipped on the nearest pair of trainers, and headed out the back. The garden gate was unlatched. I walked slowly toward the school because I knew what she was after by leaving, but I also felt anxious to talk to her as I do almost every morning.

            The chains holding up the swings were rusted. The slide would have worked just fine, but the wooden planks at the top were weathered and warped. Maggie twisted on one of the seats until the chains could not tighten any more. When she saw me, she let go, spinning out of control. As she slowed, I caught her and held the swing until it steadied. Without saying anything I sat down next to her. My face was unshaven, my hair matted, I looked quite scruffy. Fitting, since I hadn’t gotten much sleep. My Oxford Crew jumper was the only thing that might remind Maggie of the clever bloke she met at Uni, and perhaps I wore it for that very reason.

            “She’s winning.” I said gently.

            “I know. Doesn’t the fact that she’s on my turf mean anything? I am supposed to have at least a little advantage, aren’t I? Home team, all that.” she whined as she fell into my shoulder.

            “I’m not even sure what the game is, but she’s far better at it than you.” I said as a joke that fell flat. We sat in silence then Maggie stood up assertively. I followed and we started back to the house. She took my hand when I offered it to her and spent the two-block walk reminiscing about a time when she and her mother woke up early one day to shovel snow to surprise her father. She was seven years old.

*            *            *

            Judith sat at the dining room table, glasses low, concentrating hard on a crossword puzzle. When Maggie approached her, she seemed surprised.

            “What’s a six-letter word for ‘pride’?” she asked. All of the nonsense seemed to stop as Maggie leaned toward her mother as she took a moment to think of the answer.

            “Arrogant. No, no. That’s eight.” Maggie said, then paused again. “Hubris!” She exclaimed.

            “Hmm. Yes, that fits.” Judith confirmed. The two shared a warm smile.

            I felt a rush of relief, if for only a second. Having returned to her crossword, Judith threw the last twenty seconds of civility out the window with, “It’s nice you know the definition of the word. I was beginning to think-” She stopped abruptly when Maggie left her chair and headed toward the staircase, completely deflated and at a loss for words.

            I turned toward Judith and said, in the most sarcastic tone I could manage, “That was just lovely, Judith. Brilliant!” Judith said nothing. Maggie stopped in her tracks just before the hallway and turned on her heel to respond.

            Cutting her off, I said, “No, babe. She needs to treat you like a person, and I’ve grown very tired of this. I don’t know which one of you needs to grow up – maybe it’s the pair of you – but if you two won’t have the row you very likely need in order to get all of this sorted, then I’m going to take a turn.”  

            I collected myself, shifting my weight from left to right as I stood in the center of the kitchen, and said, “Judith, I love you. As much as a person can love someone they barely know, I love you. But I’m done with all of this. Maggie has tried and gone to great pains to please you but you insist on being miserable. You’ve questioned her every move – my every move, and you don’t know me that well, so I think that’s a little uncalled for. You’ve been judgmental and pressuring, done all the things Mags said you would, and frankly, have been quite mean. I don’t know if you noticed, but you and your daughter could have had a really nice time together just there, and you bloody killed it! I have tried to keep an open mind, to think she was just being dramatic, and I wish I could chock it up to a severe case of jet lag, but you are a piece of work. Mags is great. We might have a few issues, but Mags and I are great. You don’t get to come in here and cast doubt. We don’t have children because we’re happy just us two. There’s plenty of time for that, and not that it’s any of your business, but we have talked about it! Right now, we’re both feeling just a bit too selfish to bring – you know, sod it, we’ll keep you posted, alright! You don’t like our house, then get out. You don’t like London, then leave.”

            I caught my breath and instantly became worried that I had stepped too far, but when I looked over to Mags she was absolutely beaming. Judith didn’t respond this time, I’d like to think, because she knew she had no reason to argue, but as the seconds ticked by, I could tell that the guilt I felt in the pit of my stomach was now evident on my face.

            Judith slowly got up from the table wearing a hard-to-interpret smirk. Her eyes were fixed on me as she approached. I winced, but the hand that reached toward me carried no malice. She was gentle, motherly. Judith rested her hand on my face and kept her eyes on me, but instead spoke directly to Maggie.

            Nodding, she said, “You’ve done well, Maggie.” She emphasized her statement by patting my cheek lightly. Smiling, she dropped her arm and turned away, squeezing her daughter’s shoulder as she passed and coolly walked up the stairs.

            By the afternoon, her two enormous suitcases were waiting in the foyer.

Unrelated reposted

Hi ya! As promised about a gazillion years ago, I’ve reposted Unrelated, my original short fiction piece about Maggie, her charming and tolerant husband Patrick, and her imposing mother, Judith.

Part I

Part II

Do give it a read!


I really needed this…

I haven’t posted in a while. I haven’t commented in a while. Hell, I haven’t done much of anything even remotely creative that wasn’t for my class, and even that feels forced. So, I wandered back to one my favorite, first blog loves, Kid in the Front Row.

Today, this week, next week, and always, I needed this. THIS. And also THIS.

Now I feel better. No, that’s a lie. I don’t feel better, actually I feel kind of shitty. But I do feel different. I got the proverbial kick in the pants that I needed for the time being and now I must get to work.

Yes, I have homework. Yes, I have two stories to workshop for class, two readings, reading responses, and my own 45-page novel excerpt to finish…um, between last Monday and next weekend. But you know what? Screw it. I’m going to see a Broadway musical tonight, then I’m going to write my ass off this weekend.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Hopefully my renewed inspiration will result in a few posts on this baby, tout suite! See what I did there?

Until next time, mes amies!

At least we can laugh about it now…

Today, during a long work meeting, I began a mini-conversation with my long, lost bestie over email. Whilst traveling the Underground today, she thought it necessary to make contact.
Now hold up, I’m making it sound like I haven’t heard from her in ages. Really, we talked on the phone yesterday. And a couple days before that. So.

Anywhozit, our conversation went a little like (exactly like) this:

Kate sent this. I should know, but I can’t tell which station this was taken in.

K: I’m in the underground so you won’t get these for a while, but strangely enough this is where I am reminded of you most… Weird. Also can you email me from your work email so you will get my emails right away? We can talk pretend work stuff if we have to. Plus it will keep you busy at work.🙂

M: Is it because that’s where you yell at me the most?🙂

K: I was actually thinking the same thing! Email me from work. Then emails work like texts! They r more immediate.

M: I’m at a large work summit ….no access to work email til Monday. Have to deliver presentation.

K: Oh snap, ok, well we can use both and you can tell me which one to use by responding in the email that works best for you. Have fun! Good luck. Keep calm and carry on. Love ya bud!


Aaaaaand, then I had to actually go and do work. Unreasonable! Srsly, tho. She for reals is constantly bitching at me on trains.

When I answer/acknowledge a question directed at me by a stranger (because they have mistaken me for an actual British person, a.k.a. paid me the best compliment ever): “Why’d you talk to that person!?”

Maneuvering through a crowd: “Where are you?”/”Just GO!!!”

Arguing over which line goes where: “Ugh! If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times! The Jubilee line doesn’t stop at Bond Street! (She’s never told me this, and it does.) What is wrong with you!?”

And, my favorite: “…” (just walks away)

Ahahahahaha… good times.