I met an American in my town!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Yesterday, I took my son to the doctor (he has pink eye the poor thing). While sitting in the waiting room I was approached by a woman (close to my age) who asked if I was American. I said yes and she said she was from Ohio. We talked briefly about how long we've been living here and the trials of having to register a child as an American (a full day's affair in London). With every name that was called, we knew our time was limited and I think we both didn't want to let the opportunity go (knowing full well how rare it is to come across another American in this area). We quickly exchanged cell phone numbers and said we'd meet for lunch sometime soon.
She txt me later in the day and invited me to meet for coffee. I am so excited and hopeful that we'll hit it off. I can't say enough how wonderful it would be to have an American friend so close by. I have one American friend that is here in England but she lives so far from me, we never get to meet up. I just know if she was close by, we'd be the closest of friends. Just talking on the phone makes this world seem a little bit smaller and it's such a comfort knowing I if need be, I have someone to turn to that's in the same time zone. That being said, I've always wished she was closer so I'd have someone who knew exactly how it feels to be an American living here.
Because she has a 9 week old baby, as long as Ethan's pink eye is clear (and my sore throat doesn't turn into anything), I'll be meeting my fellow American for coffee on Monday morning. I'm really looking forward to it.

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The Life of Pi by Yann Martel - 4 Stars

Sunday, January 16, 2011
Life of Pi
Synopsis: The Story of Pi - a boy brought up on a zoo in India. Pi’s father decides to move the family to live in Canada and sell the animals to the great zoos of America. The ship taking them across the Pacific sinks and Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with a hyena, an orangutan, a zebra with a broken leg and a Bengal tiger called.
My husband bought me this for Christmas. I started it and gave up a few weeks ago. I was just bored by the first part of the book (before the ship sinks). I am so glad I went back to it because it was definitely worth reading. I've been thinking about it since I finished it. There was a twist at the end that made a good (albeit grim) book into a great book. I may go back and read it again now that I know the full story.
The back cover has a blurb that describes the story as 'uplifting'. I didn't find anything about this book uplifting. This book is not for the fainthearted. It's disturbing and at times, gruesome, but if you're the type that tends to continue to mull books over after you've put them down, this one will not disappoint.

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In a funk...

I've been in a bit of a funk lately. For weeks, the only thing I've been doing with every free moment is read. I've finished 3 books this week. It's escapism. I've just been so down since coming back from the US. I just can't readjust to such drastic differences in life. Spending a month there just opened my eyes to how it could be if we moved back and now I just can't adjust to the life of isolation we have here.
My husband got a call to interview for a job in North Carolina. My family says jump on it, but I feel like I'd be going from being trapped in a country I don't want to live in to being trapped in a state I don't want to live in. I know it's a step in the right direction, but it's not sitting well with me. I told him to peruse it, but I'm not sold on the idea. If he gets it, we'll see...

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One Moment, One Morning by Sarah Rayner - 4 Starts

One Moment, One Morning
Synopsis: The Brighton to London line. The 07:44 train. Carriages packed with commuters. A woman applies her make-up. Another occupies her time observing the people around her. A husband and wife share an affectionate gesture. Further along, a woman flicks through a glossy magazine. Then, abruptly, everything changes: a man has a heart attack, and can't be resuscitated; the train is stopped, an ambulance called. For at least three passengers on the 07:44 on that particular morning, life will never be the same again. Lou witnesses the man's final moments. Anna and Lou share a cab when they realise the train is going nowhere fast. Anna is Karen's best friend. And Karen? Karen's husband is the man who dies. Telling the story of the week following that fateful train journey, "One Moment, One Morning" is a stunning novel about love and loss, about family and - above all - friendship. A stark reminder that, sometimes, one moment is all it takes, it also reminds us that somehow, and despite everything, life can and does go on.
I read this book in just a couple of days. It was a really good book, but it really effected me. The writing was so good, that it gave a real sense of reality and how fragile life is. One moment can change your entire life and this reality was almost too much to bear. I spent a good portion of my time reading it on the verge of tears and wanting to just hug my husband and tell him over and over how much I love him.
I have a friend who was a young widow and this book also gave me a whole new respect for her strength in surviving such a loss. It's been days since I finished the book and I'm still reeling from it...
Get your copy at Amazon.com by clicking the book above or in the UK, Click Here

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Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah - 3.5 Stars

Firefly Lane
I really liked this book. It was a story of a life long friendship between two women who meet as children and follows their lives until middle age. It's a long book. Part of me thought it may have been a bit too long than it needed to be, but the other part of me wonders if not for the length of the book, would the ending have such an impact? I'm undecided. That aside, it was a touching story (that made me write an emotional email to my best friend of 20+ years when I was done). It reminded me of the movie 'Beaches' in some respects, but had no impact on how enjoyable the book was. If you do read it, keep the tissues handy at the end - you'll need them!
Get your copy at Amazon.com by clicking the book above or in the UK, Click Here

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Dear Baby Weight,

Monday, January 10, 2011
By the time you read this, I'll be gone. I'm sorry it has to be this way, but you were just no good for me and it was time I made a clean break.
I didn't like the way you made me feel and I haven't been happy with you for a very long time (let's face it we weren't supposed to last this long long). Sure, at first I needed you and you were good for me, but you became cumbersome and overbearing. You changed me and before long, I didn't recognize myself anymore. The healthy glow you gave me in the beginning, diminished and I didn't feel good about myself when you were around. Our relationship became unhealthy.
The truth is, I've been flirting with my 'I'm not 25 anymore' weight for a while now and we've run away together. Sure being back together makes me feel younger and sexier, but if it's any consolation, it won't last long because it's made me realize how much I miss my first love - 'I'm 20-something and hot weight'. I thought we outgrew each other a long time ago, but I'm starting to think with some hard work, we can try again and really make it last.
I know all of this may be difficult for you, but I hope you can learn from this and if we ever cross paths again, you'll be kinder to me.

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readjusting...

Saturday, January 8, 2011
I've been back from my trip home to the US for almost a month now (my first trip home in 2 years)and I've been in such a funk ever since. I was home for a month. I always get like this when I get back. Life here is so much different - I have one friend, I don't drive in the UK and I don't have a babysitter. Those 3 things combined make my life a very isolated one, but when I was home it was completely different. I had friends galore, I drive in the US (although didn't always have access to a car) and had my pick of babysitters so I could get out and feel apart of the human race on a daily basis or go out with my husband so we can have some time alone.
It's two different worlds for me. I love having a social life. After two years of being here with no visits back, I can't explain how wonderful it was when I had my first night out with friends. My best friend had a get together for me at a local bar and being there surrounded by people who know and like me was Amazing! I meet friends for lunch, had play-dates with my friends that had kids, got to have a few girls nights, got phone calls throughout my day from various people (some times I can go weeks without a phone call here) and my husband and I actually had a weekend away (our first since I got pregnant in 2007). You don't know how abnormal it is not to have all those things until you experience it again. I'm so glad I had the time, but now that I'm back here, as much as I love my one and only English friend, I miss my old life. I miss having a normal life with a string of friends, a car and family to drive me crazy and I'm having trouble re-adjusting to life back here in the UK.

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What a difference a few hours can make...

Friday, January 7, 2011
By noon today, the sun came out. Yes, that's right - THE SUN CAME OUT! my friend, Angela (my one and only friend in England - I don't know what I'd so without her) came over for our weekly play-date. We had two this week as we haven't seen each other since before xmas. When she arrived, I saw the sun was out and asked if she wanted to walk with me to pick up Ethan from school (about a 1/2 hour walk each way). She agreed and we went on our way. It was so good to get out and move while talking with a friend. I felt like I was a part of the human race again and it lifted my mood. She didn't get to stay long once we got back, but I was so grateful she came and motivated me to get out.

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The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood - 5 Stars

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud. Ben Sherwood
I LOVED this book. If you have seen the movie or the trailers to the movie, don't be fooled - I've been told it's only loosely based on the book (I don't know why movies can't stay true to the book). This was the first book in a long time that when it was over, I found myself sorry it ended. I wanted more. It was the story about the brothers I that I loved so much. It was just beautifully done. So well done that I thought the love story was almost unnecessary. I cried from start to finish and when I was done, I wanted to read it again.
Get your copy at Amazon.com by clicking the book above or in the UK, click here

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A bit of whining...

God, I'm tired. I feel like my head is in a vice. I just can't sleep lately. I get like this when I am so isolated and bored. I think it's called cabin fever. I haven't left the house in 10 days (due to potty training more than anything else - not that I have anywhere to go). It's bitterly cold and rainy outside so a walk is definitely out of the question (not that I have the energy for it). Sometimes I feel like besides my little family, there's no-one else in the world.
I hate the weather in this country in the winter. It starts in November - it get's gray and you don't see the sun again until about April. It's f#cking depressing.
I was lucky enough to spend the month of November in NJ this year and although it was cold, I got to see the sun for a few more weeks than I normally do. What I wouldn't do for a sunny vacation where we could just sit on the beach...
I hate to complain. No-body likes a whiner. Although, I just started reading 'Eat, Pray, Love' and it looks like A LOT of people like a whiner because for the first part of the book, it's all she seemed to do. I gave up on it because she was bringing me even more down than I've been feeling. Maybe I would of liked it in another time in my life, but right now, I founding it annoying and not worth my money.
My son is at Nursery school today. Having been trapped with him for the last 10 days of potty training - I needed some quiet time. He is in a clingy stage and is suffering with separation anxiety. We're both suffering. As much as I adore my little man, I am not enjoying the utter panic every time I leave his side. He screamed his head off when I dropped him off at school and it broke my heart. I felt guilty for needing this time and the relief I felt when I walked into my house to have a few hours alone, but it had to be done.
I am enjoying the near silence. All I hear right now is the sound of my keys as I type and the purring of my cat that's snuggled up next to me. It's my quiet cat, Luca. He's a nervous cat that jumps at every noise and with a toddler in the house, he doesn't get to sit with me very often. His brother is a loud mouth that never leaves me alone, but right now he must be outside puddle jumping or something. I'm grateful for the time with Luca who hasn't stopped purring in 30 mins so he must be grateful too. I know this won't last though because any minute now, the other cat will be walking around meowing at the top of his lungs demanding my attention and sending his nervous brother to sleep by himself somewhere. As much as I want to get another coffee, I dare not move because the activity may draw the attention of my vociferous cat and my quiet morning will be over.
I guess I can get my coffee now because as predicted, Alfie just came in yelling at me for something (well meowing that sounds a lot like yelling) - I knew it wouldn't last...

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Mission Impossible... (part 2)

Thursday, January 6, 2011
As we walked in, my phone rang. It was my husband calling from England. When I told him where I was and who I was with, I was immediately grateful for the strong relationship we have because there are no secrets between us. I kept the call brief and sat down with my latte.
My high school sweetheart and I sat and talked for hours catching each other up on our lives. Looking at him close up, I couldn't help but notice the gray that's coming through his hair. Not much, but enough to notice and I found it hard to get used to because through the years, in my mind, he's always remained ageless. There were no lines on his face at all and besides the gray, he looked almost the same and I realized sitting there with him how much I still love him (in the way you love your best friend). We grew up together, dated for years and after we broke up, we've always stayed friends. We exchange emails, but don't get a chance to talk much (never mind see each other). We talk maybe once or twice a year and haven't been face to face in over 7 years, but as we sat there, it was as if no time had passed since we last saw each other. Conversation flowed easily. For a good portion of the time, he talked to me about some difficult things he's been going through and I hated seeing him in such apparent pain. I gave him the best guidance I could and hoped it helped in some way.
He said some wonderful things to me there in the Dunken Doughnuts about how much I've meant to him and how much our relationship made him who he is today (for good and bad). I told him the feeling was mutual and that he is one of my all time favorite people in the world.
All too quickly, we had to say our good-byes. I knew by the things he shared, that I wouldn't be hearing from him for quite some time. It was sad knowing that, but I took comfort in the fact that no matter how long we go without talking, nothing will ever change between us. That being said, I hope he doesn't go too long without touching base...

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Mission Impossible... (part 1)

Early this morning I woke to my son stirring. Exhausted, I tried to go back to sleep. Half asleep/half awake, the internal dialog began in my head. I started mapping out this morning's post...
I met my High School Sweetheart for lunch during my recent trip home. We spent that morning texting each other to plan it like two spies arranging a rondevu because his current girlfriend was not on the list of people who knew about our meeting. Not because our lunch wasn't completely innocent, but because she just wouldn't understand. Some people think ex's can't be friends and no matter what you say, they will never think anything different. So, our texts included phrases like 'Your mission, if you choose to accept it' and 'This message will self destruct in...' I soon came to realize a restaurant was not in his comfort zone for our meeting and we ended up at a Dunken Doughnuts (so much for lunch) in a town that was apparently off of his girlfriend's radar.
I sat in the parking lot waiting for him to arrive. When he pulled up, he slowed down to motion he was parking in the back. Seeing him for the first time in 7 or 8 years, I was surprised at how much he looked the same as he did the last time I saw him. I waited by the front door and as he turned the corner, I was even more surprised by his sheer size. At 6'6, he towered over me (as I am only 5'2) and he was even larger than I remembered. When he bent down to hug me, I felt as if he could touch his toes with me in front of him without needing to move out of the way. This reminded me of when we were kids and while walking home from school, he came across a fire hydrant he was able to just step over it rather than go around it (and back then he was only 6'4)...
Still half asleep I heard, 'Mommy, I'm hungry' and realized it was time to start my day and the entry I was sleepily mapping out would have to wait...

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Why am I up??

I have been up since 5:30 this morning and it's now past midnight. I have to be up bright and early with a very rambunctious toddler. I am deliriously tired, but the perfectionist in me would not go to bed until I got the background picture on this site to be one that I took. I didn't want it to be stock photography when photography is one of the great loves of my life. All day, I tried and tried to make it work and finally - I did it! Now I can go to bed!

By the way - How's it look? Please be honest. Does it look grainy? Badly cropped? The wrong size? I can fix any of that, but I need feedback to know what to do. Thanks :-)

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My old posts...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011
I decided to import the posts from my old blog that pertained to life as an American expat.  After all, it's what prompted  me to start the blog in the first place and I think it's important to be able to share my experiences with other expats.  If not for those entries, I would have made friends along the way with wonderful people like Aniela and Courtney (who have been expats themselves) who have been like lifelines at times through the years. thank you ladies for being there and sharing this journey with me :-)

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Me Time

I woke up at 5:30 this morning.  I just couldn't get back to sleep.  At times like that, I always seem to have an internal dialog going (a result of keeping a diary and then a blog for many years) and I start laying out in my head what I would write as a new entry...
It's been years since I've kept a regular blog (unless you count my 'book talk entires' which speak for themselves.  Since becoming a mother, I just haven't had the time to blog.  My son is 2 1/2 now and I miss being able to write down my feelings and sending them out into cyberspace.  It's therapeutic to get your thoughts out and unload what ever is weighing you down. With that in mind, I decided to re-start my blog.  I'm debating on whether or not to include the posts from my old blog, but time will tell.
So this morning, I snuck out of the bedroom (leaving my husband and toddler asleep in the bed) to have a little 'me time'.  Coffee in silence is a rare occurrence when you have a toddler. Unfortunately, I forgot about my two needy cats (who have become last on the list of attention-getters these days). So, my 'me time' ended up being me and two cats time.  One silently stalked me while the other did it at the top of his lungs.  Even as I type, he is trying to force his way on to my lap...
My son woke up since I started this new post.  I got to have one cup of coffee on my own (not counting my attention seeking cats) before he got up and my potty training day began.  My days have been consumed by potty training for the last 7 days.  We haven't left the house.  All we do is wait for the next potty related incident to occur.  My little man is fighting change (he takes after his mom in that way), but he's easing in to it more each day.  I'm hoping by Friday he will be doing well enough to go to nursery school so I can have a bit more 'me time'...

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