30 December 2010

2010 in Review...Lettuce Style


Contemplating.
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
I thought before I talk about what I'm going to do next year, I'd jump on the bandwagon in the blogosphere and recap the past year here at the lettuce. See how I'm contemplating, there in the picture (that was taken in January almost three years ago...)?

Other than Susan, Dave, and Joy visiting, I don't think anything happened in January. Well, there was nothing blog-worthy, I suppose, or maybe I just couldn't be arsed to write anything. (As if to prove my point, I didn't even blog about them being here until February!)

I did say in my last post of 2009 that I was planning to earn part of my living via my writing. How did that pan out? Stay tuned...

February was a short month, but it saw me heading back home for a holiday at the end of the month that included one of the best visits EVER with my best friend Leah as well as Sandy Paws, the best greyhound gathering all year. In addition, I just happened to be within an hour's drive of Athens, Georgia, when ,See What I'm Saying screened at the University of Georgia. Marvelous, life-changing, fabulous movie, that. Go see it if you can.

March started with me still in the US, but I was soon back home in the UK and back to work at the bookstore. I'm assuming that something along the lines of a run on anti-American/anti-gay/anti-anythingbutChristian/etc. comments must have cropped up during that month, as my only post during the month has a kind of "I've had enough and I need to remind people who I am and what I stand for" sort of flair.

April started out to be rough. I'd been here a year, Jeany would have been 13 years old, would have been with me 11 years, and had been gone for a year. Susan had a birthday and I was reminded that I'd made it through 12 whole months of living abroad and no one had died or gone insane. Life turned out to be better than I'd expected in April.

May brought us Mills's birthday...big number 12! That was the only post that month, most likely because I was trying to not think about the fact that my precious little man was twelve and that I was twelve years older than I'd been when he was sprung from the Spartanburg Animal Shelter. Somewhere during the month a new government was elected here in the UK, and things have gone downhill fast ever since. The end of May marked the lost of my Hunky a year prior, but we chose to remember him fondly as we took a day trip to a place that he would have loved...York.

June wasn't hot, but it wasn't freezing anymore either which was quite nice. I'm going to include July here as well, because there was one event that absolutely stole focus for all of us for the entire month. I found a lump in one of my breasts. I survived having what turned out to be a cyst drained, as well as a needle-core biopsy (google that if you want to be scared out of your mind) that showed absolutely nothing. Mind you, I'd planned my funeral in the six weeks from finding the pitch invader to the results of the biopsy, and I've never been so glad to hear a doctor say he recommended that I not come back to him again.

In between June and July a former co-worker and friend of mine, Christine, came to visit for 10 days. Other than family, she's turning out to be the only visitor I've had from the states, and I very much enjoyed playing bumbling tour guide while she was here. Totally took my mind off the pitch invader, that's for sure!

August is the hottest month of the year, with temps soaring into the...wait for it...70s. Holy moly. Can you believe it? Tempers ran a bit hot during August, but I said then and I will continue to say that I am very proud of myself for sticking to my guns and asking for what I needed. I think that all involved have gotten past it...but to be honest, the most important people involved, me and Simon, have and all is well. He and I had a blast doing some exploring of West Yorkshire.

The heat didn't stay, as evidenced by this excerpt from a post in August: "We're now fully into the August Bank Holiday weekend and I was wearing a scarf to work this morning. A Scarf. In August. I'll leave you Southern Americans a moment to fan yourselves madly as that thought settles in."

September was full of planning for our American Future, publishing a volume including all my dog books, and politics all over the globe. Somehow I got drawn into all the "Tea Party" insanity back in the US and wrote what I think to be a very salient explanation of why I think those folks are just plain nutters.

October was pretty much nothing but a countdown to our trip to America at the end of the month. I was captivated momentarily by the rescue of 33 Chilean miners from a collapsed mine, and wish that the result had been the same when the mine collapsed in New Zealand.

Oh, there was the wearing of a witch's hat, stripey socks and an actual skirt to work one day just before we flew because it was almost Halloween. Moving on.

November=NaNoWriMo. I wrote 50,000 words worth of an EQ fan fiction novel during the month of November, and I have never felt so much like a real writer. I know some people look down their collective literary noses at NaNoWriMo but I feel like I really accomplished something awesome that month. I also recapped our visit to America, a fact that makes my winning at NaNoWriMo even more special...I didn't really start in earnest until after we got back on the 12th.

And here we are in December. It's been a rough month. It's the second Christmas in a row I've been away from my family, and this year Simon and I were here on our own because the rest of his family was up north and we just couldn't manage that without our own car. I think I've been the most homesick that I've been the whole year this month. I'm trying to channel it into resolve and determination to make the move back to America happen as soon as possible.

So to my resolution last year...earning money through my writing. While the blogs haven't brought in any money (only one of them possibly could) and NaNoWriMo produced a novel that I can't publish without asking for Sony's permission first, I have sold some of the Proud Racer compilations so I'm letting that count. I'm keeping the same resolution for next year and just going to build on it. There will be money made through writing...and even if there's not, there will be published work. There's a writer in me...she just needs to come up and get busy.

Happy New Year, see you guys in Twenty-Eleven.

28 December 2010

Deep and crisp and...very uneven.

So I'm sure that you've all been wondering how our Just the Two of Us Christmas went, haven't you? All five or so of you Lettuce Readers, your patience has paid off...see that photo there? That's pretty much how I've spent this Christmas.

I have not been ill. Wonder of wonders, I did not fall up or down any stairs and find myself bedridden as a result. The dog next to me in the photo is not ill. We have just been afflicted with, as they say here, "I Can't Be Arsed" as far as anything constructive goes. Simon and I have slept in every day since Saturday (we didn't make it to consciousness until well after 9am on Christmas morning) and stayed up until the wee hours of the morning every night since. Tomorrow will be a shock as we're both going into work...me because I have to and him because he needs to top up his flexi-time balance.

Christmas came and went, and was an extremely emotional day for me. I think the overwhelming Not Wanting To Be In England somehow collided with the equally mind-numbing This Might Be My Last Christmas while LIVING In The UK and they got tangled up in I Can't Afford To Give What I'd Like To Loved Ones. It wasn't pretty, but at least the episodes were brief.

Now, turning to the loot...we were all very lucky, including Daisy who got a small pink monkey that she has summarily ignored ever since. Mills received an orange and purple scratching pad that he hugs and rubs his head on before returning to the carpet to clean his claws.

We haven't gotten the snow that the BBC warned us we would, but instead had several hours of very loud, very heavy and very frozen rain last night. However, all is as it was before outside and cars are blaring their stereos as they cruise down our street today...or maybe that's the music in the SimCity game Simon got for Christmas. Hard to say.

So yeah, that's our Holiday Tale, full of food and bad telly and staying in bed...which is where I am now, as I write this, looking very much like the photo above only without the greyhound appendage. Next stop, New Year's Eve followed by our second wedding anniversary and THE ARRIVAL OF MY KINDLE.

What? I forgot to mention that I got a Kindle for Christmas, courtesy of my parents giving us money rather than sending us gifts through the unreliable and always delayed post? Oops. You can bet that will have its own blog post when it gets here. I might even give it a name.

Happy New Year, y'all. Stay tuned for a review of my NY resolutions from last year that might have come true...maybe a little, anyway.

21 December 2010

T-4 and counting...sort of.


ornamental.
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
It's almost here, the big day that seemed so far away this time last year. We were getting ready to head to my sister-in-law's house for three days then. Or even further away the year before, when Simon and I were in the States for Christmas and there was a perfect little 20 day old bundle of Joy waiting to greet us in Atlanta.

This year, though, I'm thinking, again? It's already Christmas again? I'm not ready. I'm not festive. I just want it to be over and done. I had a burst of Christmas spirit yesterday, when Simon was wrapping our Dunne family presents to send up north tomorrow with Louise. Everyone is getting together up there this year, but because we don't drive and I have to work Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas Bank Holiday, we can't go. So it's going to be me and Simon (and our families via Skype, I hope?) on the big day.

I think part of me has already started looking forward to Christmas next year because it will really feel like Christmas to me...because I'll be back home. The lighting of the tree at Underground Atlanta. Hopefully going with Joy when she sees Santa and rides the Pink Pig. Sending Daisy off to have Christmas with her Auntie Leah and then going to my folks' place in the mountains for Christmas Eve/Day. It's funny how much of that I took for granted until I couldn't do it anymore, and how incredibly important that ritual has become in its own absence.

But for now, I'll look for presents to be delivered by the terribly lazy postman who never knocks. I'll tromp through the snow to the bus stop to get to work. I'll deal with the customers at work who seem to think it's open season on Americans just because there's a bit of extra stress involved in holiday shopping. I'll watch Simon eat mince pies, and enjoy brussel sprouts at Christmas dinner. I'll try my best to enjoy what will be my last Christmas in England for a year or so. And on Christmas morning I'll wake up with my family...Simon, Daisy, and Mills, and be so very thankful I have them.

Merry Christmas, y'all, from all of us here at the Lettuce.

13 December 2010

Well, hello again, MONDAY.


Back in the U...K.
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
(Those of you that are familiar with Seinfeld, imagine that Monday=Newman.)

Oh, what a weekend. I spent most of Saturday not feeling well, but had a brilliant night out with Simon's oldest friends Saturday night. It's amazing how good conversation and laughter can make an absolutely disgusting curry taste better. (Seriously...that was the WORST chicken korma I've ever had, but I digress...) Cheers all around to Ben, Poom, Wesley and Suzanne for a marvelous time. Egg McMuffins all around!

Sunday we CLEANED the house in preparation for a visit from Simon's parents, which was just lovely even if all we had for a meal was pizza. I guess there is enough of my mother in me to want to be a proper hostess, even in a "dine in kitchen" that is only about 8'x8' all together. I'm going to miss being able to ask Simon to reach into the fridge and get more to drink, or grab another fork from the drawer without him having to get up from the table. Cheers to him, by the way, for doing the dirty work (I DON'T do bathrooms) while I mopped the kitchen.

Now it's Monday, and despite my best efforts there is nothing wrong enough with me that I can ring in sick. At least it's not snowing...yet. They're saying we're getting more of the white stuff on Thursday and I'm so not looking forward to that. Cheers, Nature, for giving me a break in the weather today and Wednesday, at least!

09 December 2010

Warning: Totally Emo


Who, me? Good. Definitely.
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
Right, so the last few posts here at the Lettuce have been pretty upbeat, I think. I've been making an effort, anyway, not sure that it's come across as such but we do what we can. NaNoWriMo kept me busy and focused throughout November, so perhaps my current attitude is just the big let down after a month of up? Not sure. Whatever it is, though, you have been warned.

A lot has been going on lately. Tempers are on a hair-trigger. I include my own in that statement, as anything seems to have the potential to set me off these days. Today I was yelling at the telly as students were destroying Parliament Square, then a few hours later I was crying my eyes out watching the lighting of the White House Christmas Tree. Thank goodness it didn't involve the National Anthem or you'd have heard me sobbing from all the way over where you are...wherever that is.

Work is stressful but that's pretty much a given during the run up to Christmas. Daisy and Mills and Simon and I are healthy but I'm not sure I'd go on record as saying we're 100% happy all the time. I miss Hunky and Jeany (and all my other furbabies, don't mistake) more this time of year than the rest of the time, and I guess that's why I picked that photo for the post tonight.

I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time wishing I was still in that little house with that little tree and my little life... or that I was just anywhere but here. Normal for an expat during holidays, I get that. Even more so for one like me who really didn't 100% WANT to be an expat in the first place...and who can't wait to go back home. It affects everything I do...home is perfect, here is not. My rational mind knows that isn't the case, but I've got to say, the UK right now is giving me plenty of reasons to think I might be on the right track.

New government. Cuts to public spending. Angry students breaking windows and putting graffiti on walls. Customers (and others, mind you) in the store where I work that thinking they can say anything they like to me once they hear my accent. Some days I want to break windows and spray paint buildings and lob concrete blocks, but I don't. I take it out on you, my poor Lettuce readers. (I did warn you. Right there, in the title. See?)

Does that make me better than someone else? No, but it surely does color my perspective on some issues. Does that make me wrong? No. Will I become violent if I keep hearing that my experiences, my views, my perspectives on life and the world are somehow inferior or less enlightened? Possibly...

Who me? Good. Definitely. Just today I don't feel good enough.

Dia duit ó GARF.

Almost TOO Irish, that. Go raibh míle maith agat  to Chris Heffron (of the Southern Travel Guide ) for this great shot from last Sund...