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Archive for January, 2009

In the past 5 yrs of living abroad I tend to brace myself when someone on telly brings up the US. It usually has some form of America bashing attached. I had to stop watching shows like Loose Women because there was something nasty said about my homeland daily. Subtly quips. Underhand bashing. Very fashionable to bash the US. Jeremy Clarkson lead the way.

So its one week into the Obama’s taking over the White House. Things have already started to change. I turn on ITVs This Morning to see two US flags and the segment is all about the lovely wonderful First Lady Michelle Obama and her fantastic fashion. I dont remember anyone saying this about Laura Bush, or  even Hilary Clinton. Man, Hilary had comments about how unfashionable she was. I remember tremendous makeovers on her.

So it begins. The world is beginning to look up to the US again, instead of down. What a lovely time. How nice to be an American abroad.

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a decision

We live in rural Cheshire.  Its a small town with no high street. No good restaurants. No real grocery store (one that is so high in price its infuriating) Typical town church. Loads of pubs and a few crappy take aways. This small town feel is not what I am used to, although I have lived small town in the past. My husband is from Manchester and he just can not cope with this area. He is a city boy at heart. I am from the Sacramento area of California. Strip malls, loads to eat, places to go. Lots to do.  We have known for a long time that this area isnt for us. We have known its not working. We are bored. There is nothing to do. I would even dare to say we boarder on hating the area. Dont get me wrong. The town has wonderful lovely people, its just so isolated.

We have a small house here. 3 bed semi detached. The third bed… aka the box room, is so small that you can sit on the edge of the twin size (single) bed and touch the opposite wall. Its a fine enough house for 1 person, okay for 2 but just way to small for the three of us with my step daughter on the weekends. Enough is enough.

Its all come to a head. We are putting the house on the market. Yep, we have talked about this time and time again but with the idea of moving to the states. Well, with the house prices down and the exchange rate in the toilet, add to that the economy in the states, that move is just not going to happen. We are going to move though. The decision has been made and its happening no matter how cold my husbands feet get. We are moving somewhere in the greater South Manchester area. We went for a drive around there today. Just being back in his old stomping ground makes my husband look more alive. The thought of moving back makes him feel alive again. This is what we need.

For me, I know that moving to the states is on hold for a while and there is a part of me that is relieved. Another part that is sad. But the relieved part would have always wondered if I was really unhappy here, if it had just been the typical expat ups and downs, or if it was this small town we live in or what. I am really glad to have a chance to live somewhere else. To really know if I want to stay here or not. I have hit the 5 yr mark here. Strangely I am feeling more settled.  Being an expat is a full on up  and down swinging pendulum of emotions experience. Some days you love it, some days you hate it. I am very excited to see a different place and have a more open experience. Its been really isolating to go from a condo that I could walk out, get in my car, and have a choice of so many places to eat out at it was hard to decide.  From that to eating out 1 or twice a year and a few crappy take aways. Even the local chippy isnt very good. Not that I want to eat out all the time but I do want an option. I want a more rounded experience. I want a place with better job options. The UK is great about having part time job sharing placements that could really work for us with my son. The US doesn’t really have job share or part time. Its a rare thing. So I am really excited that we have finally come to a decision. One that I wont allow to be changed. One that is going to expand and change our lives. Mostly, one that is going to put us into a house that fits our family, not shove our family into a tiny house.

We went for a drive around a few areas we had looked at about 3 yrs ago. It sealed the deal. We drove around as the night came in and just as people where turning on their lights but not closing their curtains so we can see in. The houses are huge compared to ours. Small compared to some in the states. They are still on top of each other like typical British fashion. The area looks great. Now to on to the hard bit, to sell our house. We will then find the perfect RENTAL and have freedom. YIPPEE!

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New Years in the UK

So its my 5th New Years here. Strange how fast time goes by. I have worked everyone but one, when I was pregnant. Still, after all these year it feels foreign to me. The basic tradition is there, a count down,  the Happy New year hoot, then ol lan sine, but… you stand in a circle, boy girl boy girl, arms crossed in front of you, holding the hand of the person in front of you, singing and bouncing your arms up and down. Then the bit I hate.

What is it with Europe and kissing. Its gross. So after you sing everyone kisses each other. Best wishes for the new year is said. Fine when the kiss is on the cheek but its midnight and everyone has been drinking for hours. So sloppy drunken lips trying to kiss on the lips. Blech. Gross. I have learned to make a B-line to the toilet (that is the restroom for those of you in the US. But a restroom in the UK is a staff break room so they look at you weird if you ask where the restroom is. Why would you want to go to the staff break room?)  Even running off and hiding doesn’t get me out of all the kisses.

I still sit back and observe. Even though I have worked at the same club for years I still am very aware that I am on outsider looking in. I am also very aware that they dont realize it. Americans do things just that bit different. But I am the only one in the room that knows this. I am always aware how lucky I am to be living in this other culture.

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