24 December 2011

Holiday Greetings and A Countdown, from the Lettuce

Christmas 2010 by Nancy Dunne
Christmas 2010, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
In just under 12 hours I will be on my way to my other home, England.

In just under 24 hours I will be in our little house in Keighley, with Simon and Daisy.

It is strange to be leaving on Christmas Eve, when everything in my life has been leading up to today here at Allen Mountain. It is even stranger to think that by this time on Boxing Day my sister and her family will be in the UK as well, and only a few hours down the road.

Happy Christmas to all my Lettuce readers, and a prosperous New Year as well. 2012 is going to bring so much hope and joy and happiness to all our lives...I just know it. Keep warm and safe and happy, y'all.

xx
Nancy

19 December 2011

On Families, Ramps, Sprouts and Sock Puppies...

This weekend was the annual Christmas gathering of my mother's side of the family. In fact, they get together four times a year, but the Christmas gathering has been special in my mind since I was a child. While it was always good to see my extended family, it was especially good to see my cousins...specifically my cousin Sandy. He is about 11 years older than I am, and is the youngest of the cousins on that side of the family.

My sister and I have always been in between our cousins and first cousins in age. Susan is closer to our first cousins in age, especially on my father's side of the family, but I'm sort of out on my own. I was too little to hang with my teenage cousins, and by the time they had kids I was too big to do anything but babysit those kids. But Sandy always treated me like an equal, and as a result was one of my favourite family members.

I remember once he came to visit me at Young Harris College. We hung out and talked and then later he sent me a cassette tape recording of a song he'd written for me, inspired by that afternoon. I mean who wouldn't be totally chuffed to have a cousin like that?

Sandy has a physically debilitating condition that lately has caused him to use a wheelchair, and as a result wasn't going to be able to come to the family gathering this Christmas because there is no way into Mom and Dad's house that doesn't involve steps. Mom and Dad started calling around and found a place that would build them a ramp, free of charge, for Sandy to use to come in the house. Dad and I put it together and got it all strapped in and sturdy, and Sandy got to join the rest of us for Christmas.

Of course, in typical Nancy style, as he rolled into the kitchen grinning ear to ear I said "Oh, did the ramp work?" Um, duh. He's IN THE KITCHEN, dummy.

I sort of feel a sense of let down now that this event is over because for the past week I've been eating, sleeping, and breathing McDonald Family Christmas, trying to help Mom and Dad get ready for Saturday. I ordered my presents early so that I could concentrate on this and on getting ready to go see Simon (a week from right now I'll be there...), and two of them, both from Barnes & Noble, gave me fits trying to get sorted. Mom's gift was reported as on back order and I was given the option to cancel it. I did, and then got an email that it couldn't be canceled because it was on the way. Mind you, between canceling and receiving the email, I went out and bought another one. Grr.

The last straw was Joy's present. I had ordered the most perfect neck pillow for her to use on their impending trip to the UK after Christmas. It was a tiger, and was pink and purple and had a big, cartoony face, and, as you will remember, was perfect. In the mail I got an ugly yellow tiger that wasn't even remotely like the one I ordered. So on Friday night, Dad and I went out to find something else for Joy. The look on her face the next day when she saw what would come to be named "Sock Puppy" was worth all the angst over the neck pillow gone wrong (as was her reaction to her Dora Umbrella and matching pink neck pillow from Auntsie and Uncle Simon).

One tiny note: I made roasted sprouts and bubble & squeak for my family to try as representatives of British cooking, thinking that I'd be eating all of it and honestly being pretty pleased to do so.  It isn't easy being a vegetarian during holidays that revolve around food.  To my surprise, by the time that I got to the food, a great deal of the sprouts and potato cakes were already gone and there was nothing left of them at the end of the meal.  They liked it!  Next Christmas I hope that Simon will be here to cook his own British food for them.

So one Christmas down...and one very, very important Christmas Day with my very, very perfect husband to go. Happy Yule, y'all. Happy Yule.

09 December 2011

Oh Christmas Tree...and other traditions

Sparkly!!
All my anti-holiday sentiment seems to have reversed itself in a fiery blaze of lights and stockings and tinsel and I'm all about Christmas now!  Amazing what one most-certainly overpriced plane ticket will do for one's outlook, isn't it?

I'm noticing the Christmas decorations in the stores.  I even purposefully turned the radio to one of those stations that thinks it's a good idea to play Christmas music 24-7 from Thanksgiving till New Years.  I'm not sure what's happened, but this Grinch's heart has grown more than two sizes in the past week.

I was thinking today about my favourite Christmas traditions, and realised that other than some that revolved around going to church on Christmas eve my family doesn't really have anything that we all do year after year at Christmas.  That made me a bit sad, but at the same time I think about how that give me and Simon a chance to create our own traditions and that, as my friend Lynne would say, makes me wickedly, wickedly happy.  I feel like so much of our married life has been...up in the air, I guess?  We haven't settled into "Our First Married Home" because we were trying to sell it.  We didn't know where we were going to end up, so I think we've sort of put the memory making part of being newlyweds on hold.  That includes Christmas traditions.  We eat our own little Christmas dinner for two, watch Christmas telly, and generally act like slugs all the way from the Queen's speech to Doctor Who.

What are your family traditions?  What do you do every year without fail?  What makes Christmas feel like Christmas to you?  Mine will start with seeing my Mister's face on Christmas Day.  Happy Two Weeks till Christmas Eve, y'all!

02 December 2011

How did I forget this?

Yep, that's right.
I finished/won another NaNoWriMo novel on Wednesday afternoon.  The final word count was 50,514 and with a bit of editing I think it will be the beginning of something I might just consider submitting for proper publishing.  Or it might end up on Lulu.  Or, it might end up on my hard drive with all the others, awaiting the light of day.

Anyway, if you've seen my entry for "Novel Info" on my NaNo page (which means you're quite the little stalker, aren't you?  Well done.) then you can just forget all of that.  Legacy (working title, really, I think it is tripe but...) turned out to be something else altogether from the novel I started.  Stay tuned.

And once again, my universe rights itself...

Smooth Sailing by Nancy Dunne
Smooth Sailing, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
I worked a LOT in November. A LOT. Many, many hours. As a result...

I'M GOING TO KEIGHLEY FOR CHRISTMAS!!

I'm sort of chuffed, in case you couldn't tell? All of my angst and depression goes away when I think that I'll be with my Mister (and my MeiMei) in just about 22 days. Ho Ho Ho Happy Christmas to me!

Mind you, the flight could have been cheaper, but it wasn't to be...nor did it matter. See above working a LOT in November. See me grinning like an idiot.

Yeah, so, that's good news. Yeah. Apologies for the Nancy you've come to hate over the past few months. She's MUCH better now.

28 November 2011

What happens when you let things go out of focus...

This picture happens, and you suddenly realise that you have more than 5k words left on your NaNoWriMo to win, it is 2 days to the end of the month, and last year you finished ON THE 25TH. See you guys on the other side of 50k!!

25 November 2011

See ya later, autumn...roll on January.

Gradient by Nancy Dunne
Gradient, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
Well, that's one down, five to go in the 2011-2012 Anti-Holiday season. Thanksgiving 2011 is in the history books now.

Oh, sorry Lettuce readers, I guess you didn't get the memo because I've been trying to be a bit more positive around here...I suppose the end result is that I haven't been posting much at all and that's why you may not have known about the Anti Holiday Proclamation of 2011.

Let me recap: There will be no holidays recognized until I'm in the same country with my husband. I'm not out to tell anyone how to behave in their own homes, mind. If you want to celebrate then I hope you have all the blessings and happiness the season can bestow. But as for me and my house, we will pass, thanks.

I've been told on loads of occasions and by scores of people that I need to get over it. Simon will be here soon enough. We can celebrate everything that we've missed once Simon has moved. Um, no thanks. I'd rather just skip it and try again next year.

And no, for those who have hinted both subtly and otherwise, it has nothing to do with the fact that I'll be 40 years old in a day and half. Nothing at all. It has everything to do with the thing I love the most being four thousand miles away.

So that's what's up at the Lettuce...basically a whole lot of purposeful nothing, until our birthdays, Christmas, New Year and our 3rd wedding anniversary are over. If that's difficult for you to accept, and you feel the need to try to convince me otherwise, can I please invite you to focus on your own holiday season? I promise, I'll be just fine here when you get back in January. Just. Fine.

08 November 2011

It's more exciting than all that, honest!

Snores of a Clown by Nancy Dunne
Snores of a Clown, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
Well, the 2011 CRF season has almost come to an end. We have two more weekends to go, and I have a day and a half left to work.

Speaking of, if you're in the area before about 1pm on Sunday, 13 November or any time on Saturday, 19 November come see me and Clown in the doghouse!  And while you're at it, you can follow us on Twitter, like our page on FB using the box on the right hand side (make sure you're following the official HOEF page for the most up to date info), and join our FB group.

Right, shameless promotion done. This season has been so much better than I think any of us could have imagined back at the beginning of October. Just before the season started (and I do mean JUST BEFORE, like A WEEK BEFORE) we had a major change up of leadership and basically how we operate as a group. Rather than one director as has been the way in the past, we now have an advisory board made up of one member from each adoption group that is represented. So much more democratic as well as taking the burden off just one person.

Sadly, in the change up we did lose some members but we have gained about seven new members in the process. Almost every day we've been at CRF this season the dog house has been full to overflowing with dogs! We've had such a good time. The atmosphere is relaxed and fun again like it was in the early days when we had nothing but a tiny wet tent and a few hay bales on which to sit. It's been a good thing overall, and will ensure the continued success of the group and the growth of membership. Win-Win!

As you can see, my new boy Clown has taken to life at the festival like he's always been there...I think he might be channeling a bit of Hunky there as well.

So Huzzah and Well Met! Two more weekends and then we're planning for GARF in the spring!

30 October 2011

Night, night, Little Man.

Mills! by Nancy Dunne
Mills!, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
"And when the stars fall
I will lie awake
You're my shooting star. "
-Michelle Branch

Mills Dunne
31 May 1998-30 October 2011

19 October 2011

A new day, another template...

I love orange. by Nancy Dunne
I love orange., a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.
I was telling my fabulous friend Goddess Lynne (who writes the marvelous blog, The Way of the Moth) that I'd looked over my blog with its new template and decided that it was screaming SPRING at me.  In fact, that's not what it was screaming at all, but instead it was yelling at me FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY COULD YOU HAVE PICKED A MORE GIRLY TEMPLATE? I HAVE A REP TO PROTECT, YOU KNOW. So, because I do not appreciate being yelled at in that manner, I found a new template.  Autumnal.  Ridiculous.  GIRLY.  That'll show...uh...did I just admit to having a conversation with my blog?

Anyway!  I'll try this one on for size.  I promise, too, that there will soon be a write up and pictures of our first weekend and kids day at the Carolina Renaissance Festival.  I just haven't gotten my head wrapped around it enough to write about it due to all the other stuff floating around in there at the moment.  And the YELLING FROM THE BLOG.  Did I mention the yelling?  In the meantime, though, please feel free to join our new facebook group for the Hounds of East Fairhaven if you have a facebook account.  You might also visit Goddess Lynne's blog and check out her fab poem, "Autoharp."  Genuine genius, that.  Talented friends, I have.  Talk like Yoda today, I might!

On second thought, just go join the group and read the poem.  Ta, y'all.

17 October 2011

Changing Templates...again...

So I typed out a fabulously pithy post this morning about changing templates here at the Lettuce and in my own life, and, as is the way with marvelous prose that I've created, the Universe ate it. I think it might have belched afterward and asked for a mint.

The gist was that I've been thinking a lot about changing the template, if you will, of my life and starting with something new that looks and feels different, and this morning I was totally on board with that idea. By tonight, though, after loads of fighting with Flickr and Blogger and my own Old Lady Brain, I'm thinking maybe familiar is best. Give me a few days, I will have changed templates a dozen times.

The picture over there was taken at Tiffany's in NYC on my Spring Break trip in 1997. I was still single, still in love with Audrey Hepburn and acting and the theatre. I had been to the UK for six weeks two years prior and it had changed my life. I didn't have any greyhounds or an English husband or an ex-husband or any of that. I was just me, that version of me...that template.

Is there a limit on how many times you can change a template out? Hope not.

06 October 2011

Forward Motion...


Clown Reaches the Beach
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
So if you care to find me...look to the Western sky...as someone told me lately: "Everyone deserves a chance to fly..."

(lyrics from "Defying Gravity" from the musical "WICKED." Or from Glee. Take your pick.)

Well, I can't say too much, loyal Lettuce-Heads, because what you put out on the "tinterweb" is permanent and forever, but my situation is in a bit of flux at the moment.

I know! Again! Right?

Changes are afoot, and my situation has gone from semi-almost-stable to completely on the other foot in a matter of a week. But never fear, I think the impending change is a good one, and I'm crossing everything I can that all turns out as it should.

Confused? Yeah, me too. But I find that when things get weird, I can just look at that beautiful boy in the photo there and things will get all right-ish riteawayquik. Well, for now I'm just looking at a photo of him, but tomorrow night I'll get to start a whole weekend of Clown Goodness, and that's definitely got me smiling.

Don't worry, those five or six of you that are now on tenterhooks to know what the change is and what is coming up next for those of us here at the Lettuce. Your wait will not be long nor in vain. In the meantime, though, here's something to bounce around and label me insane for: Next month is a new Nanowrimo, and I'm itching to get started!

Catch you guys after the CRF opening weekend...come see us if you're in the area!

07 September 2011

On nomadic life...and happy surprises

I've been very fussy lately. Yeah, those of you that know me, way more than normal. Can you believe it? Aren't you glad you're not exposed to it daily? I think that I've pinpointed why...I am not meant to live like a nomad.

Granted, I have a fantastic set of parents that have let me all but take over the back part of their house. My things are all over one of the bedrooms. There are enough renaissance festival gowns hanging in the "big room" to make Elizabeth I's closet cry out in jealousy and shame. But it isn't MY space.

I have fabulous friends that let me stay over at their houses when I need to travel for work. I have an absolute SAINT who is keeping our new greyhound, Clown, until I have a permanent place to go that allows dogs. But that isn't my space.

I had an almost breakdown Monday night at the prospect of more traveling. This week it is particularly busy because I'm working two days in Greenville and interviewing for a full time job in Charleston in between. But I slept on it, packed my bag, and headed north on autopilot...

...and it's all fine. Jobs in Greenville sorted. Interview to prepare for but really...I am what I am and this is the third one so...? Good tunes and a good car to drive down to the beach.

Life at the beach could be incredible. What's the happy surprise then? That I'm still hanging on and in...that I've been living from a suitcase since May and I'm getting to be okay with it...and that the trousers I bought yesterday were too big. Happy surprises, all of them. Here's to having another happy surprise after that interview tomorrow...

01 September 2011

Things I Have Learned This Holiday...

1. It IS possible to do two consecutive NaNoWriMo events, win them both, and not lose your mind. The quality of the product remains to be judged, however. (Proud Racer: An American Greyhound in Yorkshire is due out this month!!!)

2. I'm not entirely sure that Delta knows the difference between vegetarian and vegan. I'm also not sure that I know the difference between vegetarian and Doesn't Eat Meat.

3. The exit row is only good if you've got the aisle seat OR an extra layer of whale-like blubber to insulate you from the COLD exit row door.

4 .I could win a gold medal if whinging was an Olympic sport.

5. I love the UK but I do not love where we lived in Keighley. My homesickness for the UK is genuine. I love the culture (for the most part, yobs and chavs not included) and the history and the people (see above yob/chav disclaimer) but I let the negative aspects of my immediate situation ruin a fantastic growth opportunity.

6. I have good friends that I love dearly in the US and the UK.

7. If you look crazy/jet-lagged enough, the BILO employees will let you use that store's Bonuscard account at the till.

8. It will not kill you to listen to the same two songs on repeat as you are stuck in traffic just outside of Charlotte.

9. The staff at Manchester Airport are the nicest airport staff I've ever dealt with, bar none.

10. I don't care where I end up living, as long as Simon and my animals are within arm's reach.

(PS-Hello, Jet Lag. Don't make yourself too comfortable, I'd like you gone as soon as possible.)

19 August 2011

Excerpt from the latest Proud Racer Novel, in progress...

promo banner
Saltaire to Bingley and the Missing Train Station

“Where can we go today, Mommy?” Daisy asked as she danced around Mommy’s feet while Mommy made cups of tea for herself and for Daddy. “Daddy said walk, where can we go walk?”

“Hey, why don’t we go to Saltaire on the train and then walk the canal back to Bingley? We can get the train home from there,” Daddy said. Mommy grinned and nodded. “Daisy, do you want to go walk along the canal?” he asked. Daisy play-bowed and danced around the kitchen. “I guess that’s a yes?” Daddy said, laughing.

“Yes! YES YES YES!” Daisy yipped, making Mommy laugh. A walk down the canal! Daisy didn’t know what a canal was but it was bound to be exciting. She thought she had been before but wasn’t sure. Soon Mommy and Daddy had sorted out Daisy’s collar and leash and they were heading down to the train station. It wasn’t raining so Mommy and Daddy decided to walk. Daisy wasn’t always thrilled with the walk down to the train because there wasn’t a lot of grass for her to walk on or sniff, and there were lots of cars.

As they turned the corner from South Street onto East Parade, Daisy caught sight of herself in the window of the Aladdin Castle indoor playland. Next to her image she saw five other dogs, all transparent and sort of jumbled on top of each other. One of them lifted his big ears and looked around at Daisy in the window. She grinned. “Hey Hunky,” she said. “I’m glad you’re here.” Hunky’s image grinned back at her and then promptly ran into Profile’s image, bumping him into Bo’s. Jeany’s image giggled as Lizzard nipped at each of the boys before they started growling at each other.

“Don’t be afraid of the cars, Daisy,” Jeany’s image said. “We’re right here with you, and Mommy and Daddy-Simon are too.” Daisy grinned and bumped Mommy’s leg with her head. Mommy ran her hand over Daisy’s head, grinning along with her.

12 August 2011

Happy Birthday to my Favorite Girl


Pretty Daisy
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
Seven years ago today, I was huddled around a computer with loads of other people "watching" as a litter of greyhound puppies were being born. It was suggested that, since the litter was an "oops" one (not a planned breeding) the first girl be named Oopsie Daisy.

Those seven years have been amazing. I have watched that tiny puppy grow into an amazingly beautiful dog, with a personality that you can't help adoring. She is my angel, my PPG (psycho puppy girl), my sweet Mei-Mei (precious little girl in Firefly-Chinese).

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl. I'll see you on Tuesday! (insert me dancing like a mad fool here) And happy birthday to the other Leelo Babies: Hallie Jalapeno, Sophie Angel Sox, Casey, Dodger, Windy Bear and Bonnie Boo. I for one am overjoyed and thankful that all of you were born...but especially my Mei-Mei.

(Special tip of the hat to Adam whom I'm sure is watching from up there and swearing that their birthday isn't until the 14th...Cheers, Adam!)

11 August 2011

For Leah and Cathie, I present my Blog Face


Question of the Day
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
(AKA "Nancy's got on her I Am So Blogging About This! face...)

So y'all know what I do for a living, right? What you may not know is that there is a certain amount of OTT confidentiality involved in what I do...to the point that some interpreters will not tell their spouses where they will be working during the day, etc. I'm not quite to that point, but you'll excuse me if I am a bit vague in this post. But it just HAD to be blogged...

So I was working at Somewhere today with Someone Who Is Deaf and some other Someones Who Are Hearing, right? One of the Someones Who Are Hearing (I'm gonna get SO tired of typing that before this is done) reached over suddenly and picked a small insect off the shirt of Someone Who Is Deaf, making the excuse that it might bite that Someone Who Is Deaf.

In the chaos that followed, the cutest little green-backed beetle-bug ended up crawling on my knee. Now, if you're an interpreting student, I want you to promise me that you will never do what I did next. If you're from RID, I want you to stop reading now. Seriously.

Anyway, Beetle-Bug on my knee...right. After making sure that Someone Who Is Deaf was okay with it, I put my fingers close to Mr. BB to see if he would crawl up onto it with a view to flinging him to the far side of the room, away from Someone Who Is Hearing who was rapidly turning into Someone Who Would Soon Be Hyperventilating at the sight of Mr. BB. As bugs tend to be, this one was just contrary enough to NOT want to climb up onto my finger. The Someone Who Was Hearing on the other side of me offered, "Would you like me to get it?"

What does that mean to you? To me, it meant do the same thing I was trying to do but successfully, using the yellow legal pad that Someone had in his/her hand. I think you can probably see where this story is going now, can't you?

Other Someone Who Is Hearing smacked the living daylights (not to mention the stuffing) out of my knee and poor Mr. Beetle-Bug. I still have the residue on my trousers to prove it. Before I caught myself, I said (and signed) "Well, that's not at all what I thought you were going to do!"

I mean seriously!! Who smushes a cute little Beetle-Bug? Poor thing never had a chance...and now I have Beetle Bug on my good work trousers.

08 August 2011

Okay, for the last time...

1. I've started calling it a lift. Deal with it.

2. I'm going to use British words sometimes instead of American ones. If you understand what I said, why do you feel the need to correct me? It really makes NO sense.

3. I just spent two years of my life over there. Some things are going to rub off. They may or may not go away after I've been here awhile.

4. Just so you know, laughing at how Simon pronounces things, unless you're me and allowed (because he can laugh at my pronunciation) is rude. End of. Yes, I realise it's a double-standard. I don't care.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled mocking. (It's been one of those days...)

06 August 2011

Just over a week...


Daisy with...
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
I've got just over a week now to make some super progress on the current WIP because other than the amount of time before the battery dies on the plane, I don't know how much writing will get done in the first few days I'm there. I'm betting on none.

I've got just over a week to work as much as I can, but with my niece coming to stay here on Allen Mountain that won't be much, I'm afraid. Three gigs so far, but that may have to be it.

I've got just over a week to get some stock ordered to take with me to Beach Bound Hounds in September so that I can sign some books and get My Pack's stories out to those who never got to meet the original Fab Five (with apologies to my EQ friends, I'm stealing that b/c my first pack WAS fabulous) and who haven't had a chance to meet Psycho Puppy Girl because she's been overseas. I'm still confident that the WIP will have become Proud Racer: An American Greyhound in Yorkshire by BBH and will be ready to sign and sell as well.

But best of all...

Just over a week from now I will be snuggling up to that face and smooching that noggin...well, when I've pried myself loose from Hubs and stopped putting my face in Mills's fur, that is. I've not packed a thing, in fact I'm still not sure which bag I'm taking or what will go in it...but I'm counting down the days!

01 August 2011

New Month, New Camp NaNoWriMo


End of RID IKEA run
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
I know, I just won, I should still be basking, right? NOT. Have you met me? Insanity, thy name is Nancy.

This month's WIP (that's Work In Progress, see, I do pay attention sometimes Dr. Tom!) is a little diddy I like to call "Proud Racer: An American Greyhound in Yorkshire" and it's Daisy's recounting of her two years in Keighley...well, sort of, it's really her take on the times that she got to GO on the TRAIN for a WALK somewhere. She's a well traveled girl though...and hopefully there will be room in the back for pictures of her adventures. The title may change...Daisy's Adventures in Yorkshire doesn't grab me and OI! was too short, though I'm sure that's the word she's heard most often over there.

Right, so I'm blogging about writing while not writing...but I've hit my goal for the day and everything else I write (over there, not here) is just gravy. Fingers crossed I can get this one done and dusted and off to Lulu for publishing prior to Beach Bound Hounds next month.

NEXT MONTH! Good Lord. I'm gonna need a lot of Crystal Light and Goldfish crackers.

30 July 2011

And then there were crickets...


I just finished my July Camp Nanowrimo novel. Just now, at 0133 on July 30th, one full day ahead of schedule. Now I have all of tomorrow and Sunday to plan my August Camp Nanowrimo novel. If you're sitting there thinking that I've gone completely insane, you're right. I think I have. If you'd like an ARC of the drivel that just about crippled my fingers for the past 30 days, shoot me an email. The only rule is that you can't laugh...at least not where I can hear you.

Man. How appropriate that I'm doing a camp-themed Wrimo here on Allen Mountain, with the crickets loud just outside the window? I may have to build a campfire to get through August's challenge...but for now, if you need me, I'll be basking for a bit. Night, y'all!

23 July 2011

RID 2011, or Of Lifts, Binoculars, and Smashed Toenails

Yeah, that picture was taken on the way down to RID on Monday. I was happy then and had loads of energy...and great hair. Isn't that great hair?

This past week I attended the RID conference in Atlanta, Georgia. For the first time I drove down to a MARTA station and rode the train down to the hotel rather than flying to the conference. The hotel was fabulous, the company was outstanding, and I got loads of CEUs toward my current CMP cycle (which ends in December, YIKES).

The fabulousness of the hotel was only mitigated slightly by the system of elevators there. Gorgeous though they were, they were glass and went very fast and I was staying on the 27th floor out of 47. Whoosh!

At one point, Lynne (Prevail, Goddess!) and I went all the way up to the top to check out the view. It was particularly woozy for me, and I had the oddest urge to drop my Blackberry over the edge. I didn't, though, and we called the elevator to head back down. Stepped inside, Lynne positioned herself on the floor to look out, and I hit the button for the lobby. I had heard that if you hold down the close door button, the elevator wouldn't stop at every floor but would go straight to the one you'd selected. Doors shut and I held down the close door button.

The elevator went about a foot downward and STOPPED. Yep, you read that right, it lurched to a stop. Between the 47th and 46th floors. I think I might have had a minor panic attack. Meanwhile, Lynne, who never backs down from a challenge, was sitting on the floor cross-legged giggling like a demented hippie as I stared at the buttons, willing the elevator to start moving...but not to plummet to the bottom, mind you.

We ended up on the lobby floor in a few minutes when it started up again. I still don't think my heart rate has gone back to normal.

That afternoon, during one of the workshops, Lynne and I were seated near the back and were having a hard time reading the Power Point on the screen at the front of the room. I turned to Lynne to sign "Can you see that?" and found that she'd pulled some binoculars out of her bag and was reading the screen! I have a lot of fabulous friends, something I found out in spades this week.

The ride home was NOT so pleasant. It took two days, for one thing, because I stopped over at my sister's in Atlanta for the night. That wasn't the bad part though. Today, on my way back to collect my car, my fabulous week fell apart in a splash of pain and hot weather and colour.

Susan and I headed out to go to the MARTA station and I was dragging my FAR TOO HEAVY suitcase out to her car. I somehow dragged it over my left foot, starting at the big toe and working backward. There was no swearing, but I did hop around and let out a Holy Heavenly Hannah! just before my toe started bleeding. We went back in and washed it off, then a neosporin and a plaster later and I was headed north...well, actually I was headed west toward Five Points station to change trains to go north.

Problem was, the northbound train I needed didn't stop at Five Points but rather stopped at Lindbergh, a few stops on up the north line. I should have gotten the train that was on the platform when I got there, but I didn't know that. So a quarter of an hour later I got on a train north, then got off at Lindbergh and hobbled across the platform and back, then caught the right train north to where my car was waiting.

Easy sailing, right? No. Tried to leave the deck, and it said my ticket was invalid. WHAT? Back up to the cashier, paid the fee and got a new ticket that let me out of the deck and got me on my way up here to Mom and Dad's where I'm staying till Simon gets here.

In a way, I can't believe that RID has come and gone already. At the same time, though, especially when you factor in the issues I had getting home today, it seemed like I was gone for a long, long, time.

Onward and upward now...only about two and a half weeks until I fly to the UK and see Simon for two weeks. Might actually rearrange my suitcase before then. For now, though, I'm going to rest up and hopefully catch up on my NaNoWriMo...

13 July 2011

Well, there's always fish...


Fruit and Veg box
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
So I decided to try again something that I tried when I was younger and less prepared. One summer when I was working at Camp, I decided to become a vegetarian. I don't know why I did it, but if I look back on other things I did at the same time I would guess it was because it would help me lose weight. It was an experiment at best, that left me eating loads and loads of salad greens and McDonald's french fries (on Friday nights, when we'd go into town from camp after the kids left). The end of that experiment was an unplanned trip to the infirmary at Camp after I nearly fainted from a combination of poor nutrition and living in the Georgia heat with no A/C.

Since that failed attempt I've looked with envy at those able to live a vegetarian lifestyle. I don't believe that I will ever make it to a purely vegetarian lifestyle and I am pretty sure that I am not meant to be vegan. However, I do know that when I don't eat meat I feel better, physically. So what pushed me over the edge this time?

For awhile, I have been fighting the feeling that there was something not right in the way that the animals that I've been consuming for most of my life are raised, treated, and processed into the food on my table. Something not right in my opinion, mind you. I would never EVER try to make someone else believe the way I do. If eating meat is okay with you, then that's great, I'm happy for you. It just isn't okay for me anymore.

To throw a slightly hypocritical spanner in the works, I'm not planning to give up fish at this point. I know that there are loads of awful things that happen to fish, and that's why I'm admitting it is hypocritical...I can't quite bring myself to give up sushi. I know there are veg options in sushi but I've only just discovered the heaven that is yellowtail tuna. Mercy.

Anyway, back to the hypothetical straw and camel: I've had the misfortune of riding behind some chicken trucks in my life, and every time it almost reduces me to tears. I saw an awful segment on the local news the other night where a farmer was talking about how you could buy a whole cow from him, you and your buddies, and they'd process the cow...as they were standing in the field with said cows milling around behind them! "You'll get good steaks and two sets of ribs..." It was horrifying to me. But the last straw was the wild turkey and babies that walked across the back yard up here on Allen Mountain the other day. I watched Mama Turkey checking the bushes before she let her babies follow her into the brush. The argument that turkeys (or chickens or cows) are dumb and that's why it's okay to eat them doesn't matter to me. It's a non-argument. Why do we eat some animals and not others? It was then and there that I decided I had to make a change.

I don't and won't begrudge my dog or my cat eating meat. Dogs can't live as vegetarians without a lot of extra work and care. Cats are carnivores. The way I'm looking at this is that my opposition to eating meat is because I have such a strong reverence for nature. I hope that everyone can support me in this decision, and that this time I can make some healthy choices as far as my food goes.

07 July 2011

Sleeping bag? Check. Bug Spray? Check. Word Processor? Check!


Yep, I'm at it again.  I've shuffled off to Camp NaNoWriMo for July and August, with a hopeful goal of 100K written at the end of both months.  So far (as of today) I'm about 300 words ahead of my target for the day, so I'm feeling pretty good, pretty inspired.

I know, you're horribly bored, but stick with me.  It gets better.

The project for July is a YA novel called Mirror, Mirror.  It is about faeries and Wales and all things good/evil twin, and I hope it will come out at the end of the month as more than just a bunch of bad Google Translate.  Here's the working synopsis from the Camp website:

"Elisa has always been different. Ever since her twin sister Emma went missing when the girls were just 8, her life has been upside down. The loss of her twin followed by her parents' double suicide left her alone and in foster care until Gwen Morgan adopted her and took her to Wales to start a new life. But can she ever escape the life she left behind? The truth behind her sister's disappearance will lead her into a world even stranger and more deadly than she could have imagined."
I promise you loads of teen angst, unrequited love, and snappy puns to keep you entertained.  What could be better?  I'm thinking August's work will be a ghost story of some sort, but I'm not sure what yet.  Following on the camp theme, I'm trying to remember all the awesome campfire ghost stories from my youth...maybe one of them will be the star in August!

And yes, for those still asking...I am insane.  Thanks for your support.  Wrimos, ho!

06 July 2011

There and Back again...and again...


The Dunnes
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
Well, it has been two weeks shy of two months since I've seen that handsome devil in the picture with me (taken in May 2010 in York). I was losing hope that I'd see him before Christmas. I was losing my mind. I was losing my grip on politeness and definitely losing my composure.

Today we found a cheap flight...and now my world has righted a bit. I will be back in the UK to visit from 16-31 August. Back with no car. Back on the buses and trains and in taxis. Back at Sainsbury's and ASDA and eating at Nando's. Back right next to Mr. Dunne, and you'll be hard pressed to pull me away from him, at least not for very long.

I can't wait. I can't wait for the English voices on the tannoy. I can't wait for Daisy to be curled up on me on the sofa and Mills to be purring in my hair as I go to sleep at night. My family is the most important thing to me in the world, and I can't wait for all of us to be on the same continent, even if it is only for two weeks.

Roll on August!

26 June 2011

Reverse Homesickness on Allen Mountain


Daisy at Bolton Abbey
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
So it's been just over a month since I left my husband and critters and returned to the US, and I'd love to tell you that the weird reverse homesickness is gone and life is better than ever.

I'd love to tell you that, but I'd be lying.

For the most part, all of the sensory overload that IS life in America has died down to an acceptable level. I've had loads of freelance work, I've gotten a fabulous new (to me) car, and we've learned that the embassy is now processing petitions for immigrant visas filed just 30 short days prior to when ours was filed.

But there are still moments so awful, so loud, so unbearable that I find myself running into the virtual arms of online travel agencies, desperately searching for a flight to Manchester that I can afford.

While I'm on that topic, if anyone wants to loan me the dosh for a ticket, I wouldn't turn it down. Moving on...

I've had to make some big decisions this weekend about what path my life (and Simon's, bless him) is going to take here in the US, and I'm not sure that I've gotten it right but I think I'm at least facing the right way.

I do, however, desperately miss that little face in the picture up there. I went looking for her a brother this weekend, and thought I'd found the perfect dog, but on careful consideration (and once I'd gotten away from those big brown eyes) I'm not sure he's a good fit for my family, at least not while 3/4 of it is 4000 miles away.

So that's where we are so far. I'm here, I'm desperate to see my husband and critters, and I'm taking it one step at a time. How disturbingly grown up of me. When did THAT happen?

21 May 2011

On Coming Home...Again


love
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
I've been thinking (since before I even left the UK) about what I wanted to say here at the Lettuce about my latest adventure: re-patting. For two years the handful of you that read the Lettuce have been subjected to my homesickness, my struggles, my challenges and my sorrows as well as my triumphs and successes living as an expat in the UK. You've sent me messages of encouragement and sometimes of envy, and for those little moments when I felt not quite so far away, I'm grateful.

I was hoping that the moment would arrive, inspiration would strike, and I could write an outstanding final chapter to the expat part of my life that would be worthy of all of you that shared it with me. Well, if you know me, you know my tendency to Griswald everything in my life. Really, the moose out front should have told you.

So what we're left with is this: I don't know how I feel about being here, now. So I'll start this dialogue by sharing with you the events of the past two days...amazing to think that just 72 hours ago I was in Keighley, and now I'm here.

Thursday morning came far too early. I don't think I really slept Wednesday night because I wanted to remember every single thing about sleeping in that room, next to my incredible husband, with my precious princess Daisy on her bed by the window and my little hearthrob Mills curled up and purring in my hair. The alarm sounded at 4am and I was up and heading towards a new start in an old country.

Everything about Thursday morning was unremarkable, and that was just as I needed it to be. Even the taxi driver who turned up 20 minutes late got us to the train station in time for the 0601 train. We made it to Leeds, and then to Manchester Airport. We had coffee and then I left Simon to head to my plane.

Yeah, so it wasn't quite that easy. There were lots of tears and begging to stay and bargaining to move to Canada together between the alarm and the full body scan. Anyway...

The plane was full to the gills, and I was lucky enough to sit in front of a small boy who is destined to be a striker for a Premiership team one day. Two Angelina movies, a Dawn Treader and something else I couldn't be asked to watch, the end of a Percy Jackson and the beginning of a Harper Connelly, and I was on the ground in Atlanta. No lines at security, my bags arrived safe and sound, and I was whisked off to my sister's house for the evening.

Have I mentioned how much I adore my niece Joy, how much of a superstar she is? Even when she's slapping me in the nose with my own sunglasses, the urge to tuck her under my arm and make a run for it is strong. What a special, incredible, unique soul she is. Anyway, moving on...

Friday we visited the town home that my sister and her family will hopefully be moving into soon and then headed north to where I am now, with my parents. All of this seemed no different than any other time I've come home on holiday, and I was feeling quite proud of myself for manning up and getting on with things as far as moving back home goes.

You know what I did, don't you? I "Days of Our Lives Jinxed" myself. On Days, when a character makes a proclamation of all clear, such as "nothing will ever tear us apart again," the third member of their love triangle will immediately arrive in town. I felt like I had a handle on the re-patting, and the universe decided to tell me otherwise.

It was so simple: go to Walmart on the way into town, pick up some face wipes and a toothbrush. I'd been to that Walmart before and even knew where everything was. Easy peasy.

Not.

I can't really describe what it was like to stand in front of a section of that store, staring at the shelves full of sixty-eleven different kinds of mouthwash, staring intently in the hope that the one you recognise will magically appear on the shelf. I gave up and moved on to the face wipes. Were there really that many brands two years ago when I left? Were any of them the same as the Boots own that I've been using for what seemed like forever? I finally grabbed a green packet of face wipes, LITERALLY because it was green and my Boots ones are green, and tried to find the sugar section so I could get my Splenda.

I'd like to say that I was just a little turned around, but at that point I was totally lost. I stood in the middle of the Walmart and fought back big tears. I found the Splenda. I gave it and the wipes and a grapefruit for the next day's breakfast to my mom, and fled the store to find my mobile, call Simon, and just feel a little normal again.

I've recovered from that shock to the system, but I'm sure there are more to come. My America doesn't exist any more. The me that lived here for the first 37 years of her life has gone into hiding. The me that is here now wants this to be home, but it isn't. Wasn't that the whole point of moving back?

I just hope that those of you that know me in person and not just through the tinterweb (that was for you, Liz) will forgive me wincing when a car zips past on the left, or my looking for loos and lifts, and you'll love the new me as much as the one that left. Thanks again for your support to now...I couldn't have made it back home...again...without you.

06 May 2011

It's almost time!


Eurovision Song Contest
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
No, not for me to finish working at The Bookshop (that was yesterday) or for me to move to America (two weeks from today I'll be there). It's almost time for Eurovision!

Yesterday, at work, one of my colleagues said that he'd always thought my interest in Eurovision was ironic. Couldn't be farther from the truth! Now I will admit to some giggling and finger pointing and rabid tweeting during the two semis and the final but overall, I love it! I think the UK finally has a good shot this year ("I Can" by Blue), while being simultaneously horrified that Ireland might have an equally good shot with Jedward. I've been on YouTube pouring over the official entry videos and made lists of what I MUST download for my iPod. I still listen to entries from last year and the year before, cringing at some and...well, I haven't pulled out a full catwalk boogie on a train platform yet, but I've still got 13 days, hey?

So instead of feeling a failure for repatting so soon, mourning the loss of the friends I've made here, or going through my things to weed out and pack for my flight on the 19th, I'm choosing to immerse myself in all things Eurovision. Glitz, glamour, bad tunes, crazy costumes, what could be better?

(And seriously, if you watch So You Think You Can Dance, Britain's Got Talent, The X Factor, Strictly, or any of that sort, all I can say is pots and kettles my friend...oh, and nuls points!)

15 April 2011

From the Inside, Looking Out This Time

The days are counted. The boxes are being filled...okay, really, they're being mentally filled and the clothes are being mentally sorted and so forth and so on. My first expat experience is coming to an end very very soon, and a month from today I will be watching the Eurovision finals and thinking about my impending flight back to the US.

I'm happy about the move. I want to get back to my career and my life in the US. I want to be closer to my family. I want to start making up for the missed time in my now two year old niece's life. I want to get back to me, and be the person that my husband fell in love with and married. I don't think she's been around in a long time.

That said, there is a large part of me that doesn't want to leave. I don't like change, but then who does. I feel like I'm giving up, but I'm really not I suppose. I gave living in Keighley a go, and while there have been some lovely bits it just wasn't the right fit.

Will I ever find the right fit? I don't know. I'm going back to be a freelancer rather than a staff interpreter. I'm going back to be Joy's Auntsy, rather than just Susan's sister. I'm going back to be a member of the Hounds of East Fairhaven, rather than the director. In a lot of ways, I'm going back to just blend in rather than be in charge and stand out...and that's pretty fabulous I think.

The photo above is from my first ever foray into the United Kingdom, back in 1995 when I lived in Scunthorpe for six weeks. I remember leaving at the end, not knowing if I'd ever be back to this tiny island, but being thrilled beyond belief to be going back to my life. This time I don't have a "my life" to go back to, exactly, but I'm thrilled beyond belief to be going home and to have the opportunity to show my husband what real life in America is like.

Soon and very soon. How odd it will be to look back at the UK and not belong here anymore. Maybe this time I'll find out where I really do belong.

11 April 2011

Because I am insane...


Yep, I'm stuck in to another one. This time it's an adaptation of the first two books in the Proud Racer series. I'm not sure I'll finish it, but at least I've started, right?

28 March 2011

March, Interrupted


First stop in Philly...
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
It's been a month today since I headed east to North Carolina for Sandy Paws and a short visit with my friends and family. In the four weeks that followed that day, I ate at Chick Fil A (admittedly the thing I miss most about living in the US not including people) about twenty seven times. I traveled from Greensboro, NC to Jekyll Island, GA, to Jacksonville, FL to Greensboro again to Athens, GA to Cleveland, GA and finally to Atlanta, GA. I saw my parents for two and a half days. I saw my sister and the most perfect niece on the planet for two and a half hours.

I flew back to the UK and threw myself back into work at the Bookshop as well as into looking online for work in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Western North Carolina. I stayed up to watch Comic Relief on Red Nose Day. I ate at Nando's (the thing I will miss most about living in the UK other than home delivery of groceries and people). I started the countdown for the next in J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood novels. I started a new blog to showcase the photos I've been taking in various and sundry retail establishments around the UK since I've been here.

And I'm looking forward to April...to hopefully finding a job in the US, to hopefully selling our house here so we can move as soon as Simon gets his visa sorted, and to starting Script Frenzy, the screenplay version of NaNoWriMo from last November.

Fingers are crossed and big things are coming. I just need some patience...and a Chik Fil A sandwich wouldn't hurt.

21 March 2011

Time Flies...am I having fun?


Lighthouse Ladies
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
Two weeks ago today I was right there in that photo. I was visiting the St. Augustine Lighthouse with my best friend, Leah (in the pink) and our Canadian "sistahs," Janet (next to me) and Vicky. I had sore ribs from laughing until I cried repeatedly. I had wobbly knees because Janet and I walked to the tippy top of the lighthouse (200+ steps!) on a quest to see a ghost. I was happy and relaxed.

Now? Not so much. Happy to be back with Simon, definitely. Happy to have my OWN greyhound to cuddle rather than borrowing one of the ones in the picture, absolutely. Happy to have my Little Man Mills burrowing in my hair and purring like a freight train, well, yeah, mostly. But happy to be back here in the UK? Notsomuch. Happy to be back in limbo, with no job prospects, no house-sale prospects, and a job that I'm definitely not suited for at all? Nope.

Funny how things can change SO much in the course of two short weeks. Funny how I can go from being so sure of what I'm doing and when to being completely on my ear with one mention of an unrelentingly tight state government budget. Funny how I am back to not knowing where I really belong, as well as not knowing where I really WANT to belong. Parts of the UK look really good when the job I'd counted on in the US fizzles. Parts of the US look really good when I have to pretend that I'm good at retail sales. It's a mess, really.

To my Sistahs, love you to bits. Wish we were still there. I could do with a good FB LAN party and some bad sangria...because that's how you treat a princess. For now, though, back to house tidy avoidance...before even more time has flown.

06 March 2011

First Week Done and Dusted

So I'm sitting in a hotel room in Jacksonville, Florida, and I don't know if I've ever been this tired. Sandy Paws 2011 is over, and we have moved on to the Follow That Hound After Party portion of the holiday. Tomorrow morning some of our folks are headed to the track to tour the kennel, and I will be here, playing dog-nanny to six greyhounds.

Six greyhounds that aren't my own, mind you. Six greyhounds that aren't my Daisy, more importantly. I think if we were to end up in the UK for another year, I would skip this annual event because it's just too hard to be here without her.

Anyway, moving on...Leah and I were discussing Sandy Paws 2011, and I think that part of why I'm so tired is that every year Sandy Paws barrels along at a frantic pace for me. It's the same basic formula as other greyhound events, really. You have a schedule of seminars and other activities focused on living with retired racing/AKC greyhounds. You have social events. You have vendors. You have auctions and raffles. But somehow, Sandy Paws always seems to zip past with me hanging on for dear life. When you've come 4,000 miles for an event, zipping is not a good thing.

The photo above is pretty representative of my vacation so far. There's a wind whipping all around me in that picture, and I feel like there's a metaphorical wind whipping up as well. People are tired. Tempers are short. I love seeing my friends and getting to spend a week with my best friend is just awesome. But the stress? The drama? Yeah, y'all can just keep that part.

02 March 2011

American Vacation, Part One


Exit sign, KWVR Station
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
So here I am in what Liz refers to as The Homeland. I don't really know for sure how long I've been here or what day it is. What I do know, and this may also be the jet lag talking, is that I'm not sure how much I belong here any more.

Please don't read that as "I miss my life in the UK." Nothing could be further from the truth. It also shouldn't be mistaken for "I am nothing when I am without Simon, and since he is in the UK I am therefore nothing." That certainly isn't it either.

The real "it" is that I don't know where I belong. I don't want to be in the UK or the US. I don't want to be anywhere, not in an I Want To Off Myself sort of way but in an I Don't Feel At Ease Anywhere Anymore way.

The first time we came back for a visit, it was marvelous. I was back in my comfort zone. I didn't want to leave and go back to the scary and lonesome UK. The second time it was a little weird. I was starting to look for English food in the American grocery store and was frustrated at things that were "just so flipping different." Yet still, it was then and is now where I want to be...the problem, if you will, is the where within the where.

My old job most likely will not be waiting for me when I return. We may not be able to afford our perfect house b/c I have to freelance and pay for my own insurance (as well as coverage for Simon). It won't be easy, but I never thought I would look at it and think, "Do I really want to do this?"

Well, yes, of course I do. I'm just feeling a bit out of place this trip. Out of step with everyone else. Hours are flying past and my vacation will soon be over and I'm not sure that I will even know that it had started. I'll be staring down that departure gate at Hartsfield again with tears in my eyes. But do I want to stay here? I don't know, to be honest. I just don't know.

For now, though, I'm helping out for a friend of mine that became unexpectedly ill right before I got here. I'm navigating the mine field of friendly surprises and unexpected challenges. And I'm missing Simon and Daisy and Mills.

Is this really a holiday? More on that later, when I've slept a bit.

22 February 2011

Different.


loners.
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
I should really be asleep.

Today I've been thinking a lot about being different. Where I come from, that's a condition devoutly to be wished, a prized and sought after THING TO BE. The rat race, the lemmings on the cliff, the sheep bounding over the same fence one after another have got nothing on that one individual that stands out from the crowd.

Me? I hate standing out. Seriously. HATE.IT. I think that's why I went into interpreting as a profession, perhaps on a subconscious level anyway. I like blending into the background. Hmm, maybe that's why the acting-centric drama major I tried so hard to fit into in college became a backstage-crew-centric minor by the time I graduated.

My sister has always been a shining star to my wallflower, and as I'm older and wiser and all that now I know I'm okay with that. I prefer it, to be honest. I know, blogging is a bit egotistical, but I think of it as writing practice more than anything else. We grew up moving around a lot due to my dad's work, and as a result I spent a lot of very uncomfortable and anxious times being "the new kid" who is most definitely "not from around here" and therefore is "different." Not good times. Whereas my sister could (and still can) just roll with it, I backed myself into a safe corner and stayed there, for the most part.

So, back to the topic at hand. I had an incident today at the store that brought home again how I hate being different. If I had a penny for every time a customer in the store asked me where I'm from or made a comment about my accent I'd be rich by now. Rich. Today, though, one customer went a bit too far and, after touching me to get my attention (me no likey outside of Deaf Culture and close friends), apparently ran from the store, all up in a tizzy because he'd met a "real American downstairs in non-fiction!"

Non-fiction...because really, who could make this stuff up?

I remember thinking how I just wished for once I could speak to someone here and no one would know I was anything more than Nancy who works in a bookshop. I am tired of being different. I am tired of being the fish out of water, of being the one "not from around here." I think sometimes that expats mistakenly feel that we aren't allowed that indulgence, that our job is to acclimate and blend and become acquainted and all those other things that come with moving to a foreign country.

Well, to use the language of my "current" people, bollocks to that. I am who I am, and whether I'm a lifer expat or just here for two years, no matter if I'm on a student visa or just gotten my UK citizenship and snazzy maroon passport, I'm still me and me isn't British and isn't ever going to be. Bad attitude? Maybe, but on days like today it's all I've got. Allowed the pity-party or not, it's here. I'm different from almost everyone around me. I don't have close English friends here like I do at home. Home still = America in my mind and my vocabulary.

So, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to sleep now because I've got to go far far away tomorrow to get back to who I really am via an interpreting gig down south. Tomorrow I can be with other displaced Americans before I have to go back to being on display at work in the bookshop.

One last thing: If you can spare a good thought or prayer or whatever it is you do for the people of Christchurch, NZ, please do. The one close friend I do have here in Keighley is a Kiwi expat and I can't imagine how it feels to watch an earthquake of that magnitude cause such devastation back home and be so far away.

08 February 2011

Just...stop. Full Stop.


Good Morning from Haworth!
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
Here's what you've missed since the last episode of This Is My Life At The Lettuce:

1. I am still employed at The Bookshop. I have a vacation coming up. I am not 100% sure how many hours I have in my leave time total. I want desperately for my last day there to be the Friday before I leave for my vacation, but that is apparently not to be.

2. The Bookshop is in a bit of a state. Recent events (as well as not so recent events) have led to a workplace climate that bounces between giddy euphoria and utter despair, in a workplace that as of late strongly resembles a mix of high school angst and childish backbiting. It physically and mentally wears me out to even consider getting up on time for work these days, so you can imagine how much fun I am on the shop floor.

3. I have now seen an amateur panto in person, complete with metal chairs (which after three hours of constant sitting in start to resemble concrete blocks) and butter flavoured "clotted cream ice cream" at the intermission. I'm still scratching my head over the casting of a woman as the main hero, Colin/Prince Valiant as well as the use of a modified version of the theme from "Friends" as sung by the aforemetioned Prince-ss and the "Gypsies of the Wood." It certainly was different from the Children's Theatre production of the the same fairy tale we did at YHC back in the day.

4. I am experiencing weird memory losses...not the "Holy Moly, who are you and why are you in my house" kind of memory loss, a la Days of Our Lives, but the "I am positive I locked the house though we came home to find the door open" and "I have no memory of putting my phone in my pocket but it has now vanished from existance and must surely have fallen out of said pocket in the taxi" kind of memory loss. It's stress, I'm sure, but it's also fairly annoying and has hit at irritating times, such as the loss of my blackberry on Saturday or my sudden inability to perform basic tasks at work that I've done thousands of times. Seriously. I will stare at the computer for several minutes trying to figure out how to print out a report that I've done loads of before.

5. Did I mention I lost my blackberry? Yeah, that was a hot mess of fun wrapped in a rainbow. We were heading for the panto and the radio in the taxi was playing the Beastie Boys. I reached for my phone to comment about that on Twitter...as you do, of course...and it wasn't in my pocket. I remembered Simon bringing it downstairs and putting it on the sofa and thought...well, there was some swearing there, I won't lie to you..."I've left it at home...I'm going to Prime Twitter Material in the Form of a Panto and I've left my phone at home." I think there was a bit more swearing. We got home and went directly to the sofa. No BB. We got a flashlight and checked the front stoop, the road, and under the cars parked on the street in front of our house. No BB. Simon rang the taxi company. No BB.

Just wanted to add here that we were NEVER EVER suggesting that the taxi driver took my phone. NOT.AT.ALL. The other driver from the same company who spent our ride up from the supermarket telling us that his colleague doesn't steal and then charged us more than normal for the journey can take a walk.

6. I have made a fantastic wonderful awesome friend here (that I will miss when I move) who lent me the BB that she's just upgraded from until we can get something sorted for me. I hope that she and her OH will come visit us in America because I need to keep being surrounded by such awesomeness...plus she's a fellow supporter of angled parking. (Parallel parking fans...well, there might be more swearing so I'll leave it.) Kia Ora, Sue!

Well, so Catch Up turned into An Entire Post. Huh. I would really like for just a few hours to have everything just STOP, but it won't. The house is not going to get itself ready to be sold, our immigration paperwork isn't going to do itself nor will it post itself, and I refuse to continue to be the reason why our collective feet are dragging. I'll get my full stop soon...on a plane home for two glorious weeks.

18 January 2011

Strange Days...Well, One Strange Day Anyway...

So Simon and I headed to Sainsbury's last night to do our weekly shop, right? Nothing out of the ordinary there, really. We got the trolley, got the items on the list, got tired of being there and got ready to leave.

"Don't forget toilet roll and kitchen roll," he says. We head to that aisle. I head for the kitchen roll first. A grape hits me soundly in the side of the head.

Yep, that's what I said. A Grape. Hit Me. Soundly. In.The.Head. I don't know who threw it, but the sucker hit my head so hard it split before bouncing off the ground in front of us.

On the plus side, Sainsbury's is living up to their promise to stock fresh produce. On the minus side, that grape was so fresh it was almost under-ripe and it left a sore spot on my head just above my right ear.

We recovered from the anonymous grape assault and made our way to the tills. Very nice young man who is ringing up our groceries drops both the two liter diet cokes over the side and onto the floor. I literally saw them falling in slow motion. Nice young man apologises. I scoop those up, hand them to him, and run back to fetch two more that aren't shaken nor stirred.

On the way back, I decided to further fetch the offending fruit that, in my dazed post-assault stupor, I had left on the kitchen roll shelf. Two diet cokes and a grape in my arms, I turn up back at the till...and proceed to drop one of the diet cokes.

By now Very Nice Young Man is grinning like a fool until I hand him the grape and explain how it came from the skies to rap me on the side of my noggin and could he please throw it away? He graciously took it, apologising, as we gathered our groceries and headed for the exit.

I wonder why Simon was in a slight hurry to get out of the store?

11 January 2011

Thus far into Twenty Elebben...


Octo-Rasta
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne
(Don't worry, I know that it's Two Thousand Eleven or Twenty Eleven or if you're Irish, Two Tow-sand Eleven. I just use attach the made-up word Elebben to any number in an effort to stop using the previously over-used word gazillion or, even worse umpteenagazillion, both of which I've used forty-elebben times a day. See? Much better.)

(Disclaimer the Second: This will not be a post about New Year's resolutions. The only one I've made this year is not to make them.)

Why the OctoRasta photo you ask? Because it makes me smile. It makes me remember a time when I thought my life was complicated, but it really, REALLY wasn't. It reminds me of the most perfect doggie-love I've ever known, my Monkey Man, my Hunky.

And hey, the fact that it matches one of the Lettuce's theme colours doesn't hurt, either.

Right, so what's happened around here since the new year rang in just over a week ago? I've worked at The Bookshop. I've cuddled with the Daisy Mae, the Mills, and Hubs, sometimes all at the same time. Events have occurred in the US that once again make people that I am in contact with here think I was born in the wild, wild west. Newcastle United has been knocked out of the FA cup by Stevenage. And we are only remotely closer to beginning our repatting journey.

I am LOVING my Kindle. Haters and those bent on shaming me into admitting that I'd really have liked a Sony eReader/iPad/Nook/etc etc can tell me walking, as my colleague Patrick says. For me and my situation, the Kindle has been the perfect fit, and I will freely admit that for the first weekend I had the thing I carried it everywhere I went. Well, inside the house anyway...I don't have a case for it yet so it tends to stay home these days.

I've read two books so far this year. Well, technically just one, I finished the other one. Feel free to head over to the library section of the Lettuce, Well Read, to see what I'm reading and what I've thought about what I've read if you're so inclined. I've entered the Goodreads.com 2011 Reading Challenge, but I think I set my target of 100 books too low. We'll see.

The sinus infection/cold/pre-flu/nastiness that I had over the weekend has finally abated, I think. Yesterday morning I stayed home from work because it felt like a chipmunk was madly trying to burrow it's way out of my sinuses through my face, and every time I stood up too fast I got dizzy. Much better today, so back to The Bookshop tomorrow I go.

I think that's all the news thus far. I'm still counting on being able to come to the States at the beginning of March for Sandy Paws and that very soon after that I will come to the States to STAY. As in FOR GOOD or at least FOR THE FORSEEABLE FUTURE. Stay tuned.

(HEY! I got through an entire blog post without a single mention of hate rhetoric, gun sight crosshairs on maps, Arizona, or Sarah Palin! Aw crap...never mind.)

01 January 2011

Happy New Year from London, England!

Do yourself a favor and turn the sound off first, then put on some music you like. Why the BBC thinks the Radio 1 drivel is a good soundtrack for fireworks is beyond me. But it's a pretty, pretty light show...

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...