Posts Tagged ‘lists’

1) Decide to knit a cowl from a pattern, in the round, on the first try knitting, ever. Fail miserably, rip out 7 times before finally deciding to give up on the pattern and simply knit it. Realize have forgotten how to cast on in the two months since you learned.
2) Decide to purchase silk taffeta for your wedding gown and make it at home.
3) Decide to overload your poor mother with patterns for a) wedding gown, b) mock-up for wedding gown (silk taffeta being a terrifying fabric), c,d,e) cotton blouses, f,g) wool skirts, h,j) cotton dress and matching jacket, and k) silk blouse with dolman sleeves. All vintage, all purchased in frenzy of eBay, etsy and other online searches, within about two weeks.
4) Decide to take on J (matching jacket) by yourself, when your mother is not home to troubleshoot. Get about halfway through before machine decides to pitch a fit.

On the whole, my crafting skills aren’t all that fantastic. I rely on my mother and on whim and on luck. I do have some sewing skills but they are leftovers mainly from middle school when I could still get away with running around in a halter top without wearing a bra. Still, I want to sew, I want to make things, and I am blessed with a boyfriend who likes to do the same. He made me the most fantastic birthday present ever last year, a custom-made tool roll for bike tools! On a background of blue-green (my favorite color), he’d cut out of felt a bicycle and the flowers it trailed, sewed it all together, covered it in plastic and made little pouches on the back for it all! I couldn’t believe it when I opened it up. Also, the awesome PB Tools rainbow hex key set I had no idea I desperately needed.

I’m pretty proud of the progress I’ve made on the jacket. It’s good to know that not all items of clothing I may have the skills to make are boxy, boring affairs. Nor that I am relegated to making pillow cases for the next year. I just need some more experience and continued access to my mother’s stash of fabric.

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There are many differences immediately noticeable to expats: accents, stores, music, currency, culture, but there are also things that take a while to be noticed. It took us a little bit to notice not just the cars that are obviously different, we don’t really have Citroën, Renault or Peugeot (somehow mangled as Per-zho by the Francophobic Francophilic British), or the awesome smart cars. Then there are familiar brands, which are all different models, none of the ones you’re used to. And cleaning products provide a different scent to your clothes and your home.

I have also begun to realize that all of the people around me are different – I don’t just mean that I am in Britain and thus am surrounded by British people who have a different accent (! accents!!) but even the minorities are different. Britain has Poles, Asians, and a number of other groups I’m not aware of yet. Asians are from Asia, East-Asians are from further east. It does make more sense and is more culturally aware than saying “Indian” for anyone who looks vaguely like they came from the Indian subcontinent. But they may be from Bagladesh, Pakistan, you get the picture. But I miss Puerto Ricans. I miss Cubans. I miss Mexicans. I don’t know whether it’s just because I am learning Spanish, and thus miss the opportunity to practice, or because these are people with accents that I am familiar with, am comfortable with.

Recently the Best Boyfriend In the World and I watched the entire first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the best thing to happen to me since NARS Tobago lipstick. One of the queens, Nina Flowers, is from Puerto Rico and her accent brought it all home for me. (Ay, loca!) I love Western hemisphere Spanish speakers!! They’re totally different from Spaniards. Not saying they’re better, just different, and that “differentness” goes to the heart of what I’ve been feeling the past four months.

Here’s another thing I realized in the past week – yes, I have friends I can hang out with, yes, I’m having a good time, but I don’t have anyone I can just call up and chitty chat with or whine about something stupid happening in my life. Not just because there isn’t anyone with a schedule as open as mine is now (and was in NYC), but also because cell phone plans are different here. I’ve got a plan that allows me only 200 minutes per month. So I can’t just call someone up and while away the walk to the home improvement store or I won’t have enough minutes to last the month. *grump* I’m used to having 900 minutes a month. ‘Course here you don’t pay for incoming calls or texts, so at least there’s that. But we don’t have a land line yet, despite our roommate saying she’d get it a month ago.

All this adds up to an increasing feeling of isolation. I have to join a group or something, take a class, but I’m not sure I’m allowed to on my tourist visa, and I don’t really have the money to spend on something like that. Good thing spring is here and I can get out and meet chicks who ride bikes. That group is already available but I didn’t want to hang out with them outside while it was freezing cold.

I made cookies, I made biscuits, found a recipe for making pudding from scratch, want to come up with a color to paint the closet(s), and have to poke the boyfriend again about consolidating bike bits. I swear to god, they never end!!

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– Yes, we know that they drive on the left-hand side of the road. But did you know that foot traffic on escalators, in hallways, and often even on sidewalks moves on the left-hand side, too? Look right, look left, look right again, not vice versa, is what children are taught to do before crossing the street. Keep Left, not Keep Right in the Underground (not called the subway, ever). Londoners I’ve queried on this don’t seem to notice it, but I guess that’s because they’re used to it. I kept feeling like a salmon going upstream and finally realized it was because I was trying to Keep Right. Then when I got back to Madrid I almost entered an up escalator to go down because it was on the left.

– Ridiculously, they buy gas (petrol) in liters but use miles, obviously measuring speed in mph.

– British beer is way better than Spanish beer. Hands down. And cheaper.

– Books are cheap. Or I should say cheap in comparison to in Spain. They are at American prices and big chain companies often have huge deals on multiple purchases, on the order of 4 for 3. I assumed that meant 4 for £3. Often 2 for £20 or 3 for £18.

– British teenagers can be frightening in a way I’ve never been frightened of New York City teenagers. There is a palpable feeling that they will cheerfully beat you to pieces as soon as tell you off in a confrontational-yet-not-inherently-dangerous manner.

– The food there is really quite a lot better than I expected. Meat pies at pubs can be unbelievably delicious, even though probably frozen pies reheated on the premises. That really surprised me. Oh, and mushy peas are fantastic, not a sentiment I would have immediately expected from the description.

– Gravity is somehow stronger on the second level of a London Double Decker. It is necessary to hold on TIGHTLY when walking down the stairs, I’ve been nearly thrown down them by an unexpected stop or curve in the road.

– Riding in London is scarier than any riding I’ve ever encountered in NYC, and not just because of the left-hand driving, must look to the right first thing, but because many London drivers just don’t seem to give a crap about anyone in the road but themselves.

– I like London better than I thought I would have.

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