Sunday, June 07, 2009 


I'm quite honestly suffering from a lack of anything better to do than update this blog. And I probably wouldn't if I weren't still getting all these lovely emails asking for said updates. My reasons for not writing are twofold, with one being that I'm still (nearly a year later) so incredibly depressed about leaving London that I try to avoid thinking about it as much as possible, and two being that my life trapped in suburban America is so uneventful there really isn't much worth blogging about.

And I'm not sure you'd be too interested in my life, such as it is. Everything seems to have fallen apart quite quickly. The job that I left England for was shortly made redundant only six months after I started, and naturally I was so new there I didn't get any sort of severance. This then throws me into a great deal of financial stress as I have a car loan (can't go anywhere in America without a car) and my massive student loan (for a PhD that I STILL don't have). Despite not actually having a PhD, I only seem to get interviews for jobs which I'm told I'm too qualified to have (I wonder why they call? Do they expect me to interview dumber than I appear or that I've lied on my CV?) so this means that I've gone into serious debt to price myself out of the market. And with Obama's bulleye honing in towards healthcare reform, it might not ever get any better. As an added bonus, my fiance and I have decided not to get married. This isn't terrible news (we're still together), but suddenly not having to plan a wedding at the exact time as not having either a vocation or a degree program (or both) suddenly leaves me with more hours to fill than I know what to do with and it all starts to spiral.....

But despite the above, I'm not here to bitch. I've actually just booked a trip to return briefly to Europe for a few days!!! I'm off to finally defend my thesis! I'm looking forward to this more than you can imagine and so I thought it just had to be documented. I might just throw in a little San Francisco flavor along the way....

Friday, September 26, 2008 


And my world just got a little bit better....

Tuesday, September 09, 2008 


I'm already out of sorts, standing at the checkout queue at Target. I'm exasperated at my need to even be there: it epitomizes everything I dislike about America (mass consumerism, cheap production, all the toys for little girls are bright pink...) and yet I'm here, because I own practically nothing in the way of home wares and after a a few days I'm finding it increasingly difficult to function in my new flat. As I finally make my way up to the register, I open my wallet to realize it's still full of quid, and that I need American dollars if I'm ever gong to get anywhere in this town. I forget if Target does cash back, so I ask.

Cashier: Yes, we do.
Monica: Ok, great, can I get twenty pounds cash back?
C: What?
M: Twenty pounds cash back?
C: What? Twenty pounds of what??
M: Oh my God! I'm so sorry, twenty DOLLARS, can I get twenty DOLLARS please.

But come on, I've been saying "twenty pounds cash back" for four years, so I'm in the habit. You don't even want to see me walk across the street, I'm such a head-turning mess I get laughed at.

So, yes, I'm fully back in the country, living it up on the left coast. But now the question looms over me of what to do with this blog. Mostly I wonder if anyone will still read it once the hook of "little girl lost in a different country" is gone. Then I figured, if that's all that's making me think of stopping, then I should try to see if I can figure that out. So why don't you tell me what you think?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008 


After a long night and stressful morning, I'm tucked safely in the back of a mini-cab, quite determined to leave London in a far more enjoyable manner than how I arrived (struggling whilst jet-lagged with four large bags on the tube). Of course, life is never that simple. First, emotions get the better of me, as I spend the entire trip on the phone calling various mates, with nearly each conversation ending with me saying, "Aw, shit, if we go on like this I'm going to start crying, so: best of luck, stay in touch, welcome to Cali any time, love ya, bye," followed by an abrupt hang up. I really couldn't stand any more drawn out agony at this stage... To counteract all this pathos with some amusement, the universe fated me a wholly incompetent cabbie, who took three approaches to get me into Terminal Five. I was laughing by the end of it, particularly when he ended up in the short term parking lot instead, and asked me for change to help in paying to exit and try again.

The airport wasn't any better: more painful phone calls, drama checking in ("You can check in on-line 24 h in advance in the future to avoid this, we overbook all our flights." "Yea, I've been a wee bit busy what with moving out of the country and all. Are you telling me 800 quid doesn't guarantee me a seat on this damn flight?!" etc.)

Fourteen hours later, my feet are up on his dashboard, I'm holding a bouquet of flowers, and I realize how bright it is here as I'm squinting despite sunglasses. I am still more sad than excited but the anxiousness is starting to melt away, and I'm feeling much better.

Thursday, August 14, 2008 


I had such grand plans for my final days in London. But unfortunately I fell victim to the siren song of responsibility, and spent those final few days packing, wrapping up things at university, etc. It was boring, but also an excellent way of keeping busy/being distracted, and helped to avoid thinking of what I was actually going through.

I'd planned to redo some things I'd enjoyed the most: St. Paul's, Greenwich, visit my first home here... But then it sort of dawned on me that returning to these places wouldn't really add anything to my memories of them, and might actually make me rather sad, so I skipped it. I was commended earlier in the week for how much of London I'd really seen and done (far more than I ever got around to reporting on this blog) and that there wasn't really much more for me to be exposed to.

On my last full day, I ran some errands in the centre of town and then Huw and I easily found a restaurant I wanted to eat at that I neither knew the name or location of.... If that doesn't exhibit ownership of a city I don't know what does! She is mine, I have taken her in and breathed her out. What else is there to say?

That night I had a heartbreaking goodbye with the best friend on Waterloo Bridge and then walked home. I sat for a long time alone at Trafalgar Square; it was breezy and the fountain water kept sprinkling on my face. Baptism complete, I slowly meandered home, got into bed, and cried and cried.

Monday, August 04, 2008 


I drum my fingers impatiently (is there any other way?) until my nail beds tingle. When I'm too distracted to handle the task at hand I know it, and am aware of the mistakes I'm prone to making. I've had errors booking plane tickets before, and I'm determined not to err in my flustered state today. Especially when this is running at a whopping and nonrefundable $1600.
LHR? Check.
SFO? Check.
August 12th? Check.
Wait, August 12th, 2008? Ah, check.
Vegetarian meal? Check.
Aisle seat? Check.
One way? *gulp* check.

I enter the card details, hover the arrow over the purchase button, shut my eyes and click. "For the best," I think. When I look back at the screen I'm greeted with "Error, reenter payment information."

I bolt out of my chair. A reprieve! The universe is sending me a clear and simple message: Don't Go! I pace the room. I had purposefully avoided giving it much thought, but suddenly a moment of reflection was forced upon me, and I ponder how hard this move is going to be and how much I don't want to do it. "I could just stay here," my brain suggests. Yes, of course! I know what's waiting for me in San Francisco: a fantastic new job, the most wonderful boyfriend ever, an awesome new flat. I'll get married, make babies, and other such joyous and adult-like events. Suddenly this pause makes me realize I'm at a crossroads in my life. Why wouldn't I want to delay such definitive happiness? I could stay here, do a post-post-grad, go to the pub every night, take up smoking, maintain this pasty white hue of my skin, continuously duck the Home Office for not having a visa, stay poor and lonely... My mind rifles through these and a million other self-destructive thoughts. Brain screams, "anything, ANYTHING to keep from growing up!" I flounce on the bed and entertain various Peter Pan scenarios, none of which involve any responsibility or repercussions.

I lean up and look up out the bay window at the gray and misty summer skies. I start to think about sunshine, hot tubs, cable cars, ripe avocados, Obama, Napa Valley, and swimming in the pools of money my new American salary provides. I think back to when I first arrived, so overwhelmed and yet thrilled, walking along the riverbanks of my new city, and realize part of me wishes for that rush all over again. "The Thames is a fascinating body of water, but it's no God damned Pacific Ocean!!"

I get up and go through with it. Confirmation code appears. I sigh. Since I left home when I was eighteen, I've never spent more than four years in one place. Maybe that's just who I am.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 


Finally, some days of actual heat. Not summery, warm-ish, but hot. I must admit after four summers here I am still baffled. The first two were painfully sweltering and the last two have been bizarrely cold. Wearing jumpers and long trousers type of weather. So it’s been stunning to have the last few days where it’s been… twenty… five… ish… oh forget it, I’ve got no idea what the temperature actually was. Everything’s reported in Celsius, and I’m still utterly clueless when it comes to translating that into practical terms.

Look, as a scientist I’ve been deeply steeped in the world of metric for many, many years. I know the three most important Celsiuses:
0 º C = 32 º F
37 º C = 98.6 º F
100 º C = 212 º F = 373 K (Oh yea that’s right, I just went Kelvin on your ass!)

When I’m told it’s 68 degrees, I know exactly what that means in Washington DC, and grab the nearest skirt and long sleeved tee, and I’m done, dusted and out the door. Here, I’m at a loss. And I play my guessimation games, “Ok if 10 is like 50 and 20 is like 70, then today is….” but they the time I follow this train to its conclusion I’m well distracted and moved onto some other morning chore that doesn’t involve me getting dressed. It doesn’t help that it could easily be 18 degrees in October, March and July. Seasons here can blend into one, whilst the next week can be completely different from the last and so knowing the temperature is actually rather important. This is why I’ve just given up and taken to carrying a jumper with me always, like an old crazy woman.

(P.S. Did I just use the word 'jumper' twice in that post? #59: Sweaters are called jumpers, for no discernible reason.)

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