Saturday, April 30, 2011

Royal Wedding Recap

So it's over... the entire nation (and possibly the world) has a massive hangover from the pomp, circumstance, and Pimms of yesterday. I originally poo-pooed all of the hype but this past week I've been sucked in. I think it was the genuine excitement of English people, rather than the manufactured hoo-ha of the press, as they hung bunting, flags, planned street parties, and reminisced about royal weddings past. People genuinely were worried for the couple that it might rain on their day and I'm sure were pleased that the forecasted thunder and lightning stayed at bay. I think Will and Kate really resonated with everyone because they are modern young people in love, rather than stoic and wooden royals so far out of reach. Their personal openness encouraged people to join in their day as revellers, rather than subjects. It's not just semantics.

But that didn't mean I wanted to be thick in the festivities on processional route. Instead, we jumped on an early train to Salisbury to have a Royal Wedding House Party with friends in Salisbury. By 10am I had champagne in hand infront of BBC1 lapping up both the fizz and the coverage - and I loved every minute. I LOVED THE DRESS - perfect for the occasion, perfect for the location, and absolutely fabulous with the Victorian bustle detail at the back. And both Princes cut fine figures, though I couldn't help coming up with cheeky comments every time Harry leaned in to tell Wills something; if I'm not mistaken, he was TOTALLY chatting up Kate's sister Pippa coming out of the church. Mwah!

Once the initial coverage ended, after the two kisses (so cute) and after about 5 hours of drinking and TV watching, we headed out to a pub and then the backyard for celebrating in the sunshine. We ended our day with fireworks and sparkers, and trouped back to London on a 9:30 train. It was as we left it - empty, but with a frisson of excitement in the air as the nation and its guests sleepily smiled at the sweetness of it all.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Back to the Future

I'm a bad little blogger; I've been back from the US since Monday and haven't really made the time to write a post saying HI and how great my trip home was. I blamed this on the fact that The Irishman hid my camera cable so I can't upload pix from our trip to post, but really that's just me making excuses.

Jetlag this time has been an odd one. We took the overnight flight from Newark Sunday evening after a delicious Easter dinner and though it felt like I didn't sleep much, I think I did because I was FINE on Monday. Like, did laundry, went to the park and read in the sun, and wasn't cranky fine. Meanwhile The Irishman spent all day on the sofa and couldn't put two words together properly. But now, man, I get home from work at 6:30 and I am BEAT. And I get up at 8am and I can't open my eyes because at 4am I've been waking up bright eyed and bushytailed. I have no idea what's going on, but I am really hoping this goes away stat.

Anyway, about my trip home. In Philly, I made sure my bestie got married in one piece - she won't mind if I say that she got horribly sick the week before her wedding and us 'maids had the job of telling her how beautiful she was (AND SHE WAS GORGEOUS) through the pain. It was hard for me, though, because I felt guilty that I only flew in to shower her with presents and Grazias, rather than being there for her throughout the wedding planning process. Yet another one of the travesties of expat life: not being there for your bestie until the last minute.

Also in Philly, The Irishman and I ate a lot of his firsts: first cheesesteak, first pork sandwich, first soft pretzel, first Amish deli, first whoopie pie... He was in heaven. I was just trying to pace myself so my 'maids dress fit. Then The Irishman celebrated his first Seder with my family. He wore his first yarmulke and chose a fetching teal one; I was so proud of him for jumping in and fully embracing the holiday.

In New York, I crammed about 10 meals into two days so I could see my peoples. Every trip home it gets harder to spend quality time with people; meetups are shorter and less deep and I consciously feel the distance growing between myself and my friends. I know they care, I know I care, but the truth is I'm less involved with their current lives and vice versa. I'm learning to accept that, and to be okay with it. It's no one's fault, we're still friends, and it's enough to be able to see each other and pick up with wherever we left off - even if it is only in hour-long chunks.

And then we had Easter, where The Irishman was the star of the show. Again. Honestly, they love him more than me.

But the oddest part of the whole trip was that I was excited to go home because it was vacation, not because it was home. I forgot a lot of driving directions, like the backroads around my parents home that lead to I-95. It didn't feel like my place anymore; I am increasingly offended by American TV and anachronistic customs. Yet when I left, I didn't feel like I was going "home"either. Landing at Heathrow didn't feel like relief - it was just where I was going. So at this point, I just feel nationless. It's actually quite a freeing place to be, not being held down by some invisible cultural rope to a set of customs and expectations arbitrarily assigned by birth; I feel liberated but bewildered, like a kid who is home alone for the first time and knows she can do whatever she wants but isn't quite sure what that might be.

My bestie told me something funny after her wedding; apparently her family were quite disappointed that I wasn't actually British. She had told them that her friend from the UK was attending, and when they met me, heard my accent, and learned I was from New Jersey it was all a bit boring. I loved that. Expat life continues to amuse me in all of the oddest ways. So here I am, back in England, back living my odd stateless life, back to living my future.

Well then. I'm off to the pub.

Spotted: Royal Wedding Bunting

My office
King's Cross
Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Role reversal

I'm officially 1 month into my new job. So many people have asked me how it's going and what it's like, and I'm sure all of you virtual people are wondering too. Obviously then a post is in order; while I do generally keep work out of Bloody Brilliant, it is the reason I moved to the UK and a large part of my life, so I am okay with blogging from a personal point of view about how work is contributing to my life (ie, me and my experience with/at work) without it straying too far into overshare territory.

Anyway, my new job. First impression: scary. Not that the company is scary; far from it, it is warm and welcoming, a great bunch of people with great personalities who have been really inclusive and kind from day 1. But it is scary because I don't really think that I realized just what a change I was making when I left my former position. There, I had a personal reputation in the company that extended beyond the US and UK; I could call up someone in our Asian offices and they knew my name. I had firsthand knowledge of work we had done in South America. I could find resources in Russia if necessary. This reputation was in some ways good and bad: people knew who I was and my skillset, and I was often pointed to as an excellent example of the company's commitment to international collaboration across offices. But that reputation also pigeonholed me at a level I couldn't break free of, and as I yearned for bigger, more exciting challenges, I realized they wouldn't be happening there: the downside of someone knowing what you can do is that, well, that's all they think you can do.

So I left. And now I'm in a new place with new expectations and NO history. Sheesh people. There is nothing more humbling than having someone rewrite something you've been writing for years, because "that's just not how we do it here." S/he didn't do it rudely; it's just a learning curve that I ran smack bang into and I'm only now starting to adjust my approach to the incline. It's just a really weird situation to be in, going from being at the top of one's game, to relearning how to do everything that was seemingly automatic.

There are silver linings of course. I've imported a lot of ways of working that have been really well-received, and I think I'm contributing well to a situation here that is also in transition: fresh thoughts, new processes, etc. But I still have a ways to go to establish myself, craft my reputation, and make sure I'm controlling my own situation. My former boss recommended I read The First 90 Days; 30 days in I've only really gotten through the introduction. I figure if I don't count my vacation next week, I have 60 days to implement what I learn. I'm gonna read it on the plane next week.

Despite the upheaval, I really believe that every transition affords a learning opportunity. Look at how much I've grown since moving to the UK! As much as I look back on it with rose-tinted glasses, I know deep down it was such a hard thing to do. And it's the same thing with my new job. You don't change roles after 5 years and not feel any displacement; it's learning how to find your feet again that makes the challenge worthwhile. I'm on a boat, people, and I'm adjusting to the motion of the waves.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Got my passport!

I'm good to fly this day next week!


The bride and my bestie told me yesterday she was a wee bit worried about all this (oops, sorry Kat) but it's all resolved. Now I have a document that is valid until March 27th, 2021. WHOA. I haven't even thought about the 20s!

Also interesting is that this here passport is an ePassport. I've never heard of such a thing! How very high-tech-Bourne Identity-Big Brother of them.

Anyway. One less thing to worry about. Now, fingers crossed that the alterations to my bridesmaid dress that will cost me £30 turn out well...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The abovepar programming of the BBC

I've been a bit quiet on the blog as I settle into my new job and prepare all of my imports for my trip home next week. I've also been enjoying the lovely spring weather, and revelling in the fact that the BBC has finally launched their new season of programming. Warning, this post has a high geek factor, so if you didn't think I was a bit nutty before, you will now.

Last night was the first episode of "Filthy Cities," a show about world cities (London, Paris, New York) and their struggles with sewage and filth that led to municipal intervention through sewer systems and garbage men. I was excited all day for this show, because I particularly love the BBC's efforts to turn history and learning into entertainment. There is nothing quite like relaxing after work and watching a presenter attempt to clear six tons of dung from a street outside of a steel and glass center of power in the middle of the City of London.

I'm even more exciting that tonight is the first episode of The Crimson Petal and the White. Not only because I spent about $15 on overdue fees at the Brooklyn Public Library for taking about six months to finish the novel (that weighed about 5 lbs), but because I love period dramas. I know, I know - I'm a big girl. But the BBC hasn't given us a really good one since Little Dorrit so I'm chuffed to bits to get stuck into this one. Only problem – I'm flying to the US two episodes in. I now have to figure out how to get to the last 2 episodes before they disappear from iPlayer.

Here's a clip to whet your appetitie: