Kelly in London with bronze statue of Hobbs, Samuel Johnson's beloved cat.

The last thing Kelly would have wanted would have been to have to talk about herself, especially if it were in the third person. It’s true that if you were talking to her, she’d frequently interrupt with “related stories,” but they were always in the first person. She liked to think of it as an endearing personality quirk—the stories were related—but in the end she figured that she likely was just annoying to the other speaker. She tried to control the impulse with only moderate success. The issue probably stemmed from her general enthusiasm for things she liked and her desire to seem relevant.

Which is not to say that she liked people—she’d be the first to tell you that she didn’t. But sometimes actions—or interruptions—spoke louder than words.

Kelly liked to say that she inherited the best from each of her parents. Her mother was an extrovert and loved talking to anybody who would listen, and even if they wouldn’t. She, too, was generally enthusiastic about most things. Kelly’s father, on the other hand, was a quieter, more reserved sort who never made a spectacle of himself. So though Kelly knew that she often was loud and boisterous in her enthusiasm, she pretended that she knew when to dial it back and stop the stampede. Moderate success.

Anybody who is a friend of Kelly’s knows that in recent years, two of the things she was most enthusiastic about were writing and craft beer. And if you asked Kelly herself, she’d tell you that one of her favorite activities was to write her blog while she was drinking beer—and getting kind of tipsy while doing it. If she were here right now, which we know she is in spirit, she’d want everyone to stop moping and go enjoy something you love.

One of the things Kelly wouldn’t hesitate to say she loved most was London, England. She had hoped to move there one day but unfortunately, that’s a dream which will now remain unfulfilled. And that seems like a good way to draw this to a conclusion. If she were here now and succumbing to clichés, she’d say, “Go for it!” One of her philosophies of life was that you won’t know if you don’t ask which, on occasion, led to awkward moments. But she felt that though the answer might have been no, it might well have been yes. And if it would have been yes, wouldn’t you be disappointed not to have found that out?

I love my new oven!

April 4, 2012

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I actually accomplished half of my move-to-London-sometime-before-I-die action plan involving this year’s income tax refund. I got a new stove and I love it! (I’ll get the refrigerator next year.)

Now I admit, it wouldn’t be hard to improve on the old one. It probably dated back twenty-plus years to when my building was redone in the condominiums it is today. The guy from whom I bought my place did a nice job getting it in shape, but during my tenure the old stove did nothing to promote itself. It had two interrelated issues. The oven door handle kept coming unscrewed on one end and falling off, but to resecure it tightly enough, the inside panel of the door got misaligned.

The stove burners seemed a little floppy in their wells and I’d always have to poke at the edge to level my pan for symmetrical egg-cooking.

No longer so. Happy days are here again.

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The new appliance’s initial selling point (other than its very newness) was its flat top. It seems like such a duh for an electric stove. But now that it’s delivered, installed, and in use—oh boy! The bonus of the flat stovetop is that it’s a much more practical staging area for putting the groceries away.

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It’s true, it’s just the most basic, least expensive Kenmore model, but by golly, it’s awesome! I’ve been trying to restrict myself to synonyms of awesome, unless something truly warrants that adjective, because it is quite overused these days. I know a lot of what I’m experiencing is, again, by sheer virtue of its newness and the improvements in technology in the ensuing years, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable!

Though the delivery guys arrived at the very last moment of the stated delivery window, they were very professional and competent. I didn’t actually have any cooking planned until twenty-four hours later, so for the first while I merely gazed lovingly at the flat top. But since then, I’ve had several private moments of joy.

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The oven door has a window. The oven has a light inside it. Not only does the light go on when I open the door, but there is a switch with which to turn it on if I simply want to watch the paint of my baking item dry.

The burners operate with traditional physical dials, but the oven is controlled by beepy electronic buttons. Baking temperature, check. Preheated indicator, check. But wait! THERE ARE TWO SPEEDS OF BROILER! You read that right. There is HI broil and LO broil! And as if that weren’t enough, there is an on-board timer. How did it know that I was about fed up with my crappy wind-up egg timer? My new stove is the captain’s chair of the Starship Enterprise!

By now, some of you Californians with fancy houses and, by extension, fancy kitchens, are probably sitting there thinking, aww, isn’t that cute. Well, as the NBC television network used to say a few years ago, “If you haven’t seen it, then it’s new to you!”

I haven’t seen it. It’s new to me.

And it’s AWESOME!

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I’m not sure I’d exactly call it progress on the moving-to-London dream, but I did do something useful last night. I looked at rents over there for the first time. I can’t believe I never did that before.

I was pleased to learn that it’s not as outrageously expensive as I had been psyching myself up for all this time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly cheap, and I don’t imagine home ownership will really be an option. But in the area where I stayed during my last visit in summer 2010, I could find a 1-bedroom place comparable to the apartment I lived in for eleven years before I bought my condo for maybe twenty percent more than I’d pay here. And anyway, London’s a big town. There will be something somewhere that’s within my budget.

So that part of the plan is going well.

Action taken: checked out rent prices.

Then I looked around my place. The stuff. Then I checked in on another unit in my building that has been for sale for well over a year, probably closer to two. The mortgage. The diminished selling price.

Depression. 

Action taken: I engaged in one of my known coping mechanisms for restlessness and “depression.” I just cut off all of my hair.

The other unit is currently listed for eighty percent of what I paid for mine. And she’s got it looking a whole lot better than mine not least because she has about ten percent of the possessions that I have. My decision to purchase was rash. If I had shown interest but not acted, I probably could have waited out a reduction in price, because I think the guy had been trying to sell for a while before I showed up. But me being me, I forged right ahead. This was right at the end of the housing boom. Double whammy to me.

It was right at the end of the housing boom. Within six months the bottom had fallen out of housing prices. The market, like me, is still depressed. So part of my procrastination about London has necessarily been a waiting game for selling prices to climb a little. They haven’t. I had currently been figuring that if I put it on the market today, I’d be able to get around what my neighbor has dropped her price to. I’m not thinking that any more. Like I said, hers is nicer. The only disadvantage it has over mine is that the main water shut-off for the entire building is in that unit. Maybe that’s a deal-breaker.

Action taken: I just emailed a different neighbor who also put his place up for sale. Difference is, his sold in weeks. I want to consult with his agent.

Regardless of any issues about price, I know that I need to do a lot of spiffing up in here. The first thing to do would be to replace the carpet that I have hated since Day One. Sure, it was brand new but it wasn’t very good quality, I don’t think, and in the intervening years, the animals have kind of had their way with it, not that most of that couldn’t be cleaned, but I hate the carpet. I’ve always thought that installing that fake hardwood stuff would be the way to go. But I wonder how that would work with my ground floor floor that is always sinking and cracking because things are always shifting and settling. I’ll probably end up just putting in new carpet again.

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Actually the first thing to do will be to get rid of most of my worldly possessions, because I never even glance at most of them. I mean, look at all these books. When was the last time I touched one of them? It’s been a lo-o-o-ong time. I suppose I’d keep the ones I’ve written and some of the ones I’ve designed. But all the others? I’ll get a Kindle, motherfuckers.

Actions required: 1) Figure out where to eco-dispose of books. There probably aren’t that many that would interest the used book store. 2) Re-rip all of my music CDs at a higher bitrate, then jettison their asses, too. 3) Be realistic. Even if I could fit into all those clothes again some day in the distant future, I’m not going to want to wear them. And if it’s the distant future, I’ll be in London and it will have been cheaper to buy new stuff than move old stuff overseas. Donate, donate, donate.

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There are a few large items I would take with me—my cuckoo clock, Grandma Doudna’s embroidered map of my grandparents’ travels, Grandma Hetzel’s platform rocking chair, and my rabbit lamp. All other bets are off.

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In addition to things, there are two cats and a rabbit. The cats are young, they’ll be fine getting their pet passports stamped. But my rabbit is almost nine, which is up there for a bun. The unofficial influence on my London timeline has been waiting out my rabbit’s life. At first blush that sounds cold, I know, but I’m only thinking of him. Rabbits are not as sturdy as cats or dogs and though I would take him along in a heartbeat if he were young, he is not and at this point I’d never subject him to the stress of air travel. He’s still going strong, bless him (though his diminished litterbox habits are part of the new carpet equation). 

Eventually we must address the legal aspect to all of this. The general information that I have learned is that I must have a job lined up in advance so that my employer can get my work visa, or something like that. But artistic types such as musicians and authors seem to have plenty of wiggle room. Authors, you say? Why, I do have many author credits in the U.S. Library of Congress! It would just be too much to hope for that my kind of authoring would be the sort that would allow my to circumvent the usual employment requirements. I haven’t investigated in a number of years.

Action required: look at immigration rules again. See if I can take my US work self in a direction that allows me to take advantage of any UK immigration “other” options.

Then there’s the whole money part. I’m certain I would have enough cash to finance the move once I sold my place, even with a crummy selling price because a couple of years ago there was a significant pay-down on my principal. But before that, I’d have to pay for the improvements. To that end, I’m thinking that I ought not to spend my next tax refund on another visit to London like I would like to do. Rather, I ought to mostly put it toward the improvements. In addition to the carpet, I’m quite sure I’d be advised to get new appliances. And that’s something that would benefit me anyway. So even if I didn’t end up selling for a while, I’d be happy about that.

In addition, I was already thinking about not returning to bowling next year. That is, until I recently got a lesson and am more interested in it again. But if I didn’t bowl, I could instead put at least some of that $2700 for a year’s worth into the London Fund.

The same could be said for the money I’d save if I cancelled my cable television subscription. The added benefit would be that I wouldn’t be watching TV all the time and could concentrate on more useful activities, such as throwing out stuff or doing extra work to steer myself in the right immigration direction.

 

I think that about sums it up. The one thing I have the power to start doing now is getting rid of stuff. And that would be a good idea regardless.

 

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To read my previous bemoaning on this topic, please refer to Inertia, part 1 (history of the dream in which I compare myself to a large, brick building), Inertia, part 2 (I am lazy like a potato sitting on the couch), and Inertia, part 3 (nothing’s changed for me but the large, brick building is making progress).

The large, brick building is now open for business as the Cowles Center for Dance and Performing Arts. It got off its ass and did something.

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These two photos are the earliest and latest ones I have of myself. What has happened in between? Funny you should ask. Let’s take a look.

Ages ½–10

I’d swear I remember when the baby picture was taken. I have other toddler memories, such as what the kitchen in our first house in Manteno, Illinois, looked like. Yellow and floral.

We spent many summers in Bloomington, Indiana, while my dad worked on his PhD at Indiana University. He finished the work but his committee denied him of the degree.

To this day I have dreams that involve the house on Main Street in Ada, Ohio, where I grew up. I’d love to get back inside that house for a look. I remember listening to Winnie-the-Pooh and Peter and the Wolf records in the living room on our big, console stereo. It was a big deal when I got to operate it myself. We moved to a different house when I was eight.

Ages 11–20

Our new house was a block inside city limits. Most of the time I’d walk or bike to school, but if I wanted to ride the schoolbus, I walked over to Grandview Boulevard.

I spent countless hours in the city swimming pool. I spent countless hours playing Kick the Can with the neighborhood kids. I crashed my friend’s brand new bike that I rode around while she was inside eating supper. There was a horse at the end of the block, where the town suddenly turned into the country. There was a woods at the end of the block that seemed very big at the time. In it there was a treehouse.

We moved to Wisconsin two days before I turned fifteen. During the first year, my sophomore year in high school, it was novel and fun and not completely awful because it was to the small city where my grandparents lived and I already had a couple of friends. Then in my junior year, I grew to resent having been plucked from where I had grown up. I became a troubled teen. I stayed out all night one time without communicating with my parents. I broke up with my boyfriend which upset my parents who liked him a lot. Their reaction was very formative. I considered dropping out of high school.

I worked as a professional radio deejay.

I graduated high school.  I started college. I dropped out of college.

I moved out of the house. I moved into the house.

I went back to college. I dropped out of college.

I moved out of the house. I moved into the house. I still have nightmares that for one reason or the other, I have been forced to move back in with my parents at my current age with my youth issues, such as no boys in my bedroom.

Ages 21–30

I started technical college. I transferred technical colleges. I dropped out of technical college.

I moved out of the house. I went back to college. I dropped out of college. Rinse and repeat.

I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to go back to college. I finished college! My mom proudly told a friend that I was graduating at age twenty-six. Her friend asked what my PhD was in. Sadly, it was just my bachelor’s degree, in English, after eight years.

I went to Europe for the first time on a trip with my parents that was a graduation present.

I worked for a year at a job that was pretty dead-end but which got me lots of promotional copies of albums on cassette. I decided to go to graduate school.

I moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to go to the University of Wisconsin for meteorology. I learned that a boy who had been one of my best friends growing up and who also went to Wisconsin for meteorology was, in fact, gay and that we’d never have that chance to get together that I had been denied when my parents ripped me away at age fifteen.

I flunked out of graduate school when I failed calculus for the second time. I began to get serious about bowling.

I went to the local technical college, Madison Area Technical College, and met Chris Gargan. I graduated with my commercial art degree and have been a graphic designer ever since.

Ages 31–40

I moved back to Minneapolis. I worked through a temp agency and met my two best friends, Jim and California Rob. I became employed at my current position which I’ve held for over sixteen years. Oh my goodness, I began to grow up!

I became a published author, though not in the way I imagined as a kid. But my name now appears in the Library of Congress, so that’s something.

I went to the United Kingdom for the first time and fell in love with it. I realized that London is my soulmate. I will live there someday.

I got more serious about my bowling.

Age 41–present

Along with other spending, all of my trips to England contributed to my declaring personal bankruptcy. I learned that it’s not actually that difficult, in the big scheme of things, to live without credit. Except for being deprived of more trips to England.

I kept getting more serious about my bowling. People think I’m joking when I say I take three balls with my to league. The people who are really serious take six or eight.

California Rob moved to California. Jim got married. Possibly in the opposite order. I began my descent into curmudgeonhood.

Oddly, still in my bankruptcy, I was able to procure a mortgage and buy my first home, a condominiumized apartment. Gotta start somewhere. The housing market tanked. I am stuck unless I want to take a significant loss in my selling price.

I began to develop my love of craft beer. I hate saying “craft beer” because it’s such a buzz-term right how. But if more people like it, more will be made and that’s not a bad thing. My gateway beers were Bell’s Oberon and the local Summit Extra Pale Ale.

I have slowly and surely been gaining weight.

Last night, I picked up a twelve-pack of Summit’s Silver Anniversary Ale. Then I went to the preseason meeting for my Monday bowling league. Then I stopped at a bar that had a firkin of a special, grapefruit-infused version of Odell Brewing St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale, a current favorite of mine. I was chit-chatting with the young patrons on either side of me about beers in general and India Pale Ales (my preferred variety) in particular. My bartender asked me—almost accusingly, as though I were a spy for a distributor—who I worked for. When I said a small graphic design company, he blinked and said, “You know a lot about beer.”

That made me feel really good.

Tonight, I enjoyed some of that Summit Silver Anniversary Ale.

Best day ever? Maybe?

August 13, 2011

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It would be hard for me to choose the best ever day of my life. Not because there have been so many, but because I’d probably end up not remembering the one that would qualify as best ever. I can pick out good days here and there, but by and large, none strikes me as the winner. But if I had to say, I’d go with the day last summer when I traveled to and arrived in my beloved London for the first time in six years. I met two friends for the first time and had a week of fun to look forward.

As I was pondering that day in general, I remembered that it was also my birthday. I don’t make a big fuss about birthdays. Maybe that’s because my birthday is smack in the middle of summer and I never had a party in my class at school, so it never got cemented it in my brain as a big deal. 

The celebrations at home were usually pretty low-key. I vaguely remember a couple of little parties. There was the one when Mike C came over and my mom made eierkuchen because that’s what I wanted (recipe, recipe). Then there was the one, um, er … I guess the eierkuchen one is the only one coming back to me at this moment. I’m sure there were other dandy get-togethers with my other friends in other years. Please don’t feel slighted because I don’t remember what happened in the 1970s.

The birthday for which I have the strongest memory for as an “adult” was my twenty-fifth. I was in college and had a part-time job at a service station. One of my part-time coworkers was in a “band.” After work, the lot of us would often go over to his house and drink beer (regular beer, not the fancy kind I like now). One such hanging-out was on my birthday and though I’m sure I didn’t make any prominent references to it, the word got out. I had gone to sit by myself on the front steps for a few minutes and one of the roommate/bandmates came out with his guitar and sang Happy Birthday to me. He didn’t really know me from Adam, but it was very sweet and to this day remains one of my favorite birthday memories. And apparently, also, one of my few concrete birthday memories.

Fast forward to last summer. 

It was intentional on my part that I booked my flight so that I’d arrived on my birthday, once I learned that the discount airfare departed on Thursdays. My birthday seemed like as good a Friday as any to arrive. I knew I’d be wiped out from traveling on the one hand, but that the adrenaline from excitement would keep me going on the other. Dan and Spiros picked me up at Liverpool Street Station and we wandered around on foot from there. I only had a carry-on and my backpack, so I was pretty portable.

I think we ended up in Hodge the cat’s courtyard because Dan’s office is nearby. I was tickled because on my previous trip, I had sought out the statue and now there we were, fairly randomly, at it again. I considered that to be a good omen for a successful upcoming week. We eventually went to Dan’s, where I was staying. I had a shower and we had a snack. Then the three of us went to the Honor Oak to watch the USA World Cup match. 

I fell into bed completely satisfied with the day.

Predicting the future

January 5, 2011

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Today I will ponder the other subject that people do around the turn of the year, the future. I will travel to the future and imagine what might be going on.

Fantasy future

Anyone who’s been reading along knows that my ideal future would be the one in which I’m living happily in London. I’d find an affordable flat somewhere in central London. I liked the Camden area a lot, a neighborhood that has diversity and all types. Maybe I’d find a place above a neighborhood pub like the Spread Eagle. I’d tappy-tap-tap on my MacBook, writing all day and earning enough to keep it going. Or maybe I’d have to go to my office job in central London, walking a few blocks to the nearest Underground station for my ride. If I did go to an office, there’d be a nice little pub like the Cheshire Cheese at which to stop for a pint with my mates after work. It would be a Bridget Jones existance, minus the halfwits, fuckwits, perverts, alcoholics, workaholics, etc. 

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I guess this has already gone from prediction to fantasy. Oh well, I’ll run with it.

If I had to live a slightly further out, maybe I’d live in a terraced house like the one my friend Dan lives in. No, that probably wouldn’t be the case because I’m sure that the only way I’d afford a place like that would be to have roommates, which will never happen. Well, whatever it ended up being, I’d love it because I’d be in London and that would be good enough for me, because for ten years I’ve been convinced that my life’s happiness is dependent upon my being in London, however it happens.

Realistic future

Now we shall return to reality. I probably won’t make it out in time. 

My rabbit will live just a little too long (I’ve noted before that he’s getting a little older, and although he’s in good health, I wouldn’t want to subject him to trans-continental stress), and I’ll spend a year or two too many waiting for the housing market to recover before I try to sell my place for only a moderate loss rather than the large loss I’d take today. That will give one or both of my parents just enough time to have some fluke deterioration in their health (they, too, are getting a little older and are in quite good shape), and then I, as their only child, will be wracked with guilt at the notion of leaving them, country, and continent behind in order to pursue my own selfish happiness and fulfillment. In fact, I will probably have to move back to their small city in Wisconsin to be closer to them. (That’s how we ended up there thirty years ago–for one set of grandparents.) If it ended up being the case that I had to look after them, maybe, just maybe, I could get them to come here to Minneapolis instead. They like it here and there’s a lot more going on, though as small towns go, theirs (ours) really is quite nice.

 

Well, it is the new year. If ever there were a time to pretend to be motivated about making my London future happen, now would be it. Stay tuned.

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Characters??? lives welcome

December 15, 2010

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I am always open to ideas that would let me escape my current life and start a new circumstance. Sure I go on trips, but I haven’t uprooted myself since 1994. So while I work out a plan for moving to London (as friends and longtime readers will know I want to do), I instead like to lose myself in a good flick. There are three whose characters’ situations I empathize with the most.

(The latest: my plan for getting to London has basically become to wait out the crap economy until I can sell my condo and lose less than the 25% that I estimate would be the case in the near future. That, and my rabbit is becoming elderly and though he’s very spunky and healthy, I wouldn’t want to subject him to the stress. I know, convenient excuses for inaction. But I digress.)

It should come as a surprise to no one that I love Bridget Jones. I read the books, I watch the movies over and over and over. I want her life because she is a single career girl (sort of) in London surrounded by good friends. It’s mostly the London part that I want, and I know I’d have three good friends to start (hello, M, S, and D!). I’m a graphic designer and writer, and those skills are pretty portable. Though unlike Bridget, the singleton aspect of my life wouldn’t bother me very much at all.

In that regard, I might be a little more like Frances in “Under the Tuscan Sun.” That character lives out the ultimate version of my fantasy. She sees and she stays. Other than the unacknowledged dissatisfaction with her circumstances after her divorce, there is no preplanning to her hopping off the tour bus and not looking back. If I had the cash, I’d absolutely embrace that kind of spontaneity. I get weepy every time that bird poops on her head and the old woman decides to sell the house to her.

Frances worries that she’ll never find love again, but it isn’t until she stops looking so hard that it comes her way. That’s what I always say. I am quite happy being on my own and am not looking to get hitched (unlike Bridget), but figure someday love might find me in its own time (as Frances eventually accepts).

And why is it that I think I need to go somewhere else to be happy? Just ask Arthur Dent. I suppose to an outsider, my life looks just fine, but I want more. Not in a greedy, materialistic way, but in a way in which I could feel more fulfilled. Because I don’t. And like Arthur, I can’t quite muster the ambition to be better than my just-gettiing-by self. I want better, but good enough is good enough. So why wouldn’t it be fun to have your life/world/universe turned upside down in the space of an hour? I’m sure that in a new situation I would, for a while anyway, be able to become greater than I currently am.

But for now, I settle for feeling it vicariously through these movies.

 

Gone to the Swan

December 2, 2010

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I spent almost all of my time in London, but there was one side trip. Dan thought it would be fun to combine an outing to the country with tracking down one of the honorees on a top pubs list by the Guardian. That was Swan on the Green in West Peckham, Kent.

 

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We took the train from London to Wateringbury. The Wateringbury station house was a charming old building with lots of interesting shapes and angles. 

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From there we had an about four mile walk to West Peckham and the Swan.

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The town of Wateringbury seemed pretty typical. I noticed a few of these World War II plaques on walls along the road. Other than Ground Zero in New York City, we don’t really have physical battlefields on the continental United States from recent times, so I thought they were pretty interesting. Most of my knowledge of the war comes from television programs like “Foyle’s War.” It was a little eerie in a way seeing these markers of people’s pride in their war effort, and definitely humbling to see firsthand evidence of something I only know through Hollywood representations.

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We walked on. This was pretty typical of my view—Dan and Casper way ahead. I thought I was a fast walker, but Dan walks really fast. I didn’t always bother to holler that I was stopping to look at something and take pictures, like when, being the Midwestern girl that I am, I got a kick out of hey, they grow corn here, too!

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Along the way, we thought we’d stop at Mereworth Castle and have a look around. As we approached the “castle,” which was really just a large manor, a woman came running out and inquired, rather suspiciously and in a thick Slavic accent, what we were doing there. We learned that it was a private residence not open to the public and beat a hasty retreat back to the main road. Instead, I settled for taking what turned out to be my favorite photo that I’ve taken so far on my iPhone 4 of roses in the yard of the church in the town of Mereworth. I love the colors and the blown-out exposure of the background.

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Mereworth is also where we crossed a street named, appropriately enough, The Street. That tickled my funnybone.

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We continued to walk without incident, except for Casper’s alarming tendency to occasionally drift out into the road, until we reached West Peckham. We triumphantly strode up to the Swan on the Green, ready for a tasty beverage to refresh us after our walk, only to find that they were closed until suppertime. Anticlimax. 

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Casper set up watch and we endeavored to kill over an hour, which included playing backgammon and exploring the neighboring church yard.

Casper talked us into a few ball sessions on the eponymous green across from the pub until, at last, it was once again open for business.

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We were excited because we knew they made their own beer. I always enjoy sampling new and local brews when I go places. By that time we were also famished and enjoyed a nice meal.

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It was soon time to go, though Dan determined that we were a little too late to catch the last train back to London from Wateringbury, so when we got back as far as Mereworth (approximately), we went to The Queen’s Head Pub (StreetView), whose sign we had seen on the main road, and called a cab to take us somewhere else—to Tonbridge, I think (correct me if I’m wrong)—to catch the train from there. We had just enough time for one more thirst quencher while we waited for our ride.

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It was almost a disaster—the cab driver informed us that dogs were not allowed, but we didn’t have to work too hard to convince him otherwise. It seemed like the car ride to Tonbridge took as long as the whole train ride down had earlier in the day, but at last we were speeding toward home. We were all quite pleased when we arrived back at the house.

Inertia, part 3

September 16, 2010

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Well, it’s been a little over ten months since I berated myself and bemoaned my apparent lack of motivation to accomplish my life’s big goal, moving to London, England. The Shubert Theater managed to get off its ass and begin restoration. Let’s take a look at how I’m doing.

As a result of making new friends in the Tweak Today community, some of whom live in London, I resolved during the winter that after I got my (U.S.) income tax refund in February or March, one of the things I’d do with the cash was book a trip across the pond. 

Although I have previously lamented that in this down market, my mortgage traps me unless I want to take quite a hit in selling price, one positive is that the mortgage interest credit on my tax return provides for a sizable refund. Once a year, I clear up all my outstanding financial obligations (including paying my friend who floats me for Minnesota Twins baseball season tickets for the previous summer) and take my three pets in for checkups.

This year, I took care of myself first. I spent a lovely nine days in London the end of June beginning of July and hung out with my new friends. It was a good trip.They both live “in town” and I got a lot of time walking around on my own during the work day and going about the business of locals in the evenings. It gave me a good opportunity for a better-informed evaluation of how I might actually like living there. I was not dissuaded from my desires.

I figure it would still be at least a couple of years before I could make anything happen. The notion that I’ve had in my head since London won the 2012 Summer Olympics is that if I planned my arrival for soon thereafter, there might be ample more-reasonably priced living accommodations. On the other hand, if I somehow got myself there, you know, soon, maybe it would be easier for me to find a graphic design job or otherwise in the run-up.

It’s me. It will be later rather than sooner. And so far this entry is idle chat about my vacation, not a change in behavior.

What I have started doing is going through stuff around the house with an eye to downsizing before a cross-ocean move. Or because I simply have too much crap and I had houseguests. The casual observer would be hard-pressed to notice any difference, but I know the progress I made. A couple of my neighbors have much less stuff than I and have brought out the potential in their units. I want mine to be like that when I sell.

I did pass my 15-year anniversary at work and have no doubt that I’ll make it to 16 and beyond. Changing jobs wasn’t really the point of any of this, at least not until I’m looking for a job in London.

For a while I had been watching less television and doing more writing, reading, anything, but that bloom mostly faded. I still haven’t finished The Stuff of Thought, but I did manage to breeze through a romance novel in less than 24 hours this past weekend.

I don’t think there are obvious outward signs that my state of being is any different. About the best I can say is that I am quite certain that I’ll book another jaunt to London this winter when airfare is at its cheapest and I could accomplish the trip from a couple of paychecks rather than shooting my wad on high-season summer prices. I don’t need warm weather to have a good time.

On the indisputably positive side, a year and a half later I am still working out at Curves regularly. And, after the aforementioned ten months, still writing this blog.

 

The links, except the one about the Shubert, are all to previous blog entries which are related to one degree or another.

Sunglass badass

August 11, 2010

Sunglasses_tweak

If I were a U.S. Marshall, this is what I’d look like—at least if I played one on USA Network. I only had these on for a couple of minutes (basically long enough to snap the photo), but for those two minutes I channeled my inner Mary Shannon and felt like a complete badass.

I’ve worn eyeglasses since I was seven and so just never got into the habit of wearing sunglasses. Even for the many years that I wore contact lenses I didn’t have an overly-developed need to put on the shades, though I did do my little part to support the industry. I suppose I could get prescription sunglasses but it has never seemed like even a low priority in my financial world.

This scene happened on my recent vacation in London. My friend Spiros suddenly suggested that he, our other friend Dan, and I try on each other’s glasses. Dan and I have eyeglasses, Spiros had sunglasses. I have quite poor vision and so Dan’s glasses didn’t help much and conversely, my Coke bottle prescription must have seemed dizzying. Not to mention the bifocals aspect.

When I put on the sunglasses I couldn’t see a thing. Not only was my vision uncorrected, it was uncorrected and darkened. But I wouldn’t have needed to see a thing because I suddenly looked like a badass. Anyone I encountered would just run from me in terror and it wouldn’t matter that I couldn’t actually see them—they wouldn’t know that. I’d just turn my face in the direction of the sound of their footsteps or voice, and maybe straighten my posture to a more menacing stature, and any would-be confronter would turn around and flee like a tiny bunny flashing the whitetail danger sign.

I am not a badass. I handed back the sunglasses and returned to the security of my -9.0 lenses.