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Not Your Usual Sort of Princess

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(no subject) [Jan. 27th, 2020|04:27 pm]

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(no subject) [Jul. 16th, 2012|07:15 am]
My first wedding anniversary weekend - even talking about "my anniversary," makes me feel like an old married lady, but in a good way.

After work on Friday, we met at a pub called The Castle near Faringdon. In hindsight, I should have taken the five minute tube ride because I was soaked after the ten minute walk. Wet and bedraggled, a run in my stockings, make up slightly smeared, and wearing purple sneakers with my business clothes, and that leaves out the bit about being 40 and deemed obese by the Wii Fit on a daily basis. I am legendarily ridiculous, but this did not stop us from having a pint and some dinner in the city. 

Saturday morning we packed up our bags and went back into town for our London anniversary weekend. We stayed at Charring Cross Hotel, which is trying to be a nice place despite the fact that Charring Cross Underground is the most pee smelling station in London. Given the circumstances, I think the hotel is doing very well - nice rooms, bathrobes and slippers. I don't think they will make it though, because they are selling themselves as an Executive Hotel and if you want the business trade but don't quite have enough hot water to go around on a Sunday morning, you'll never make it.

We spent some of the afternoon wandering around Trafalgar Square, and had a nice visit with the Caravaggio's and VanGogh's in National Gallery. The square itself was blocked off for some kind of dance event, and we saw loads of people with colorful dots on their shirts but never could figure out what was happening when. Which is like most Olympic experiences.

In the evening we had a not very fancy but fairly delicious barbecue dinner are Garfunkles, which may be the UK equivalent of Applebees. There is a weird shortage of barbecue sauce here, and they seem to only lightly shake the bottle over top of your plate, instead of coating things in it. This is odd because given the chance they will slather anything with mayonnaise so it's not like they do not enjoy their sauces.

And then for our very special treat, we went to see "Singing in the Rain." It was lovely. Most of the London Theater is basically ridiculous -- it's all musical versions of the Lion King and then shows made out of pop songs like Mama Mia. At least "Singing in the Rain" has the advantage of 70 years of dignity built in.

In line at intermission, a lady from California struck up a conversation. It's always slightly awkward to have random conversations with other Americans. You feel like you should instantly hit it off, but not all Americans were meant to be magical best friends. There's also a pretty big divide between Americans on holiday, and Americans who live here. It goes something like,

"You live here, that's amazing, you must be so happy!" "Nope, the weather has been horrible, I miss my parents, the commute is atrocious, and Target is the best store in the Universe. This place sucks and I'm miserable at least 20% of the time." "Oh." 

Should I just start lying? It is getting better, but I cannot say that I love living here when most of my clothes are starting to smell like mildew because, like most people, we don't have dryer and it takes three days for them to dry.

After the show, we Walked in the Rain to the Savoy, and had massively overpriced and delicious drinks at The American Bar. I now want to buy silver cups and learn to make Mint Juleps.

Yesterday, finding ourselves in Central London on day with limited rain, we thought we ought to take a look around the place. We took a Big Bus Tour, which turned out to be mostly terrible as I think Kristjan and I could have done a better job than the prerecorded commentary which was mostly music. How can that even happen? They ran out of random things to say about London? But it was good to ride around the city. We saw the Olympic rings hanging from Tower Bridge, and the Olympic Road lanes which pop up without warning and cut off the flow of traffic.

We got off the bus and took a walk near Hyde Park, and could hear the booming speakers for blocks. They've been having concerts there -- Kylie was canceled for mud, but Bruce Springsteen was there Saturday night, and Madonna is some night this week. I understand the park has been turned into a mud pit, and given how load the Sunday afternoon test was, the neighbors must be well and truly annoyed. All that aside, our walk intentionally took us by the US Embassy, and I was very happy to see my flag.

After that jam packed weekend, there was nothing left to do but rush home so that we could get a dehumidifier from Argos. It has to stand upright for a day before you can use it, but we are very excited to start extracting water from our damp flat.

For the record, it has rained for at least a week and a day. Yesterday was mostly dry but I heard rain late last night, and it is raining this morning. 8 Days of rain and counting. Tomorrow should be dry, but this has been the weather all summer -- rain for a week, on dry day, rain for ten days, and one dry day.
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(no subject) [May. 29th, 2012|08:40 pm]
Good Golly. Just watched an episode of Panorma about racist, violent, anti-Semitic, football supporters in the Ukraine and Poland. Apparently there's a club of supporters that likes to give the old Nazi salute. In addition to setting things on fire in stadiums and wearing their white power gear, one set of them does militia style training and has a Confederate flag on display in their club house. 

In a thousand years, I would not have expected to see such scenes from Poland and the Ukraine. All I can think of is about this kid I went to elementary school with whose Ukrainian mother came in to show us the fancy painted eggs. Certainly, 99% of all residents of these two countries are probably completely disgusted and fall on the painted egg rather than the painted swastika side of things, but still shocking! And the police chief who said, "Oh, that is not a Nazi salute, they are just pointing," was so unable to believe his own lie he couldn't even look at the camera. 

Anyway, you could look for it if you're interested. I wouldn't say it was educational, but I found it more disturbing than those old Dateline specials about the militias in Idaho. 
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(no subject) [May. 8th, 2012|08:42 pm]
I am really doing a lousy job. Meh. 

Things were very dark and dreary. Unemployment did not suit me at all, and I developed a nasty eye twitch and started having nightmares every night. Then I got to temping again, and the eye twitch went away. Then my sister showed up and I got a job offer on the same day. An offer for a good job, doing things I like to do and making nearly as much as my old salary. Given the cost of living in London, that's really a step backwards, but I will take it. 

Things are ok here, but I hate knowing that we may never have a little house with a backyard. We'll see. 
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(no subject) [Sep. 27th, 2011|03:32 pm]
I'm going to be brave here, and leave this public. Who knows what kind of spam will appear! I spent some time today looking at videos of the Occupy Wall Street protests. It's interesting to contrast the kinds of people who appear in videos from various media sources.

The protesters all have videos of mean police arresting people. I find these a bit hard. I wasn't there, so I don't know that I can always say who was right and who was wrong. I have the benefit of being related to a few police, and having known many more from my days in the army/navy store. So, you know, lots of police are fine and really just want to get through the day with a minimum amount of paperwork, which is what we all want, really.

I see people being arrested and/or maced when they do not seem to be doing anything, but I'm not there. I don't know what happened ten minutes before, I can't hear the exchanges between the police and the protesters, and I don't know what's going on around the corner. I can't make heads or tails of it. I know some police are jerks, and I know some protesters are jerks. Maybe it's just always bad news when the jerks manage to find each other.

In one video, the crowd started chanting, "let her go," as young lady was cuffed against a car. I reached a personal best in the shallowness category because all I could think of was, "Donna Martin Graduates!"

Then there are the videos from mainstream media outlets. How do they always manage to find the biggest weirdos to interview? "Hey, that kid hasn't showered in four days, let's get him!" It's so consistent that it has to be intentional. I do not think that they are trying to discredit the protests necessarily, but I think they know that interviewing a kid with blue hair and tattoos will keep eyes on the screen longer than interviewing the nice mom from Brooklyn. I can remember so many anti-war demos in DC that were peopled by regular middle class folk but turned up on the news as a montage of smelly black block kids.

So the best video I saw was from RT News. Not to say that they do not have an agenda, but I feel like they at least get more comments from different kinds of people who are participating. You can still disagree wildly, but you can no longer disagree because it's just some "hippie weirdo." They do not interview police (probably can't), but they took the trouble to provide more background and information.

By and large, it's hard to know what to think about everything. It's a big terrible mess, but I can't say that I have a solution for it. And I'm happily middle class now, so I have a bigger stake in the status quo. I like our nice TV and staying in fancy hotels. I don't want the revolutionaries to take it from me, and I don't want the bankers to squeeze me out of it.

But I'm probably kidding myself. In the long run, it's just not sustainable. Best to just enjoy it as long as I can.
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(no subject) [Aug. 3rd, 2011|09:54 pm]
I know I am not the first person to say this, but the idea that "LiveJournal is now the main communications resource of civil society in Russia,” Tomsk political activist Victor Korb wrote on his blog. “For all of LiveJournal’s many software weaknesses, it is far and beyond other social networks in its accessibility and its serious and active community. LiveJournal is the main organizer of those rare and modest local victories of civil society over the stultifying regime of ‘stability.’” kind of blows my mind. You mean to say that people in other countries have bigger problems than boys being mean to them? Freaky!
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(no subject) [Jun. 10th, 2011|09:11 pm]
Some Junk I Wrote On The Train Long, Long, AgoCollapse )
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(no subject) [Apr. 6th, 2011|09:06 pm]
This here is my moment to be a jerk. I just heard someone on the radio saying that she never imagined she would trapped with her giant adjustable rate mortgage for the actual life of the loan.

On the on hand, yes, yes, and yes. When I was house shopping in that golden era, the mortgage lady tried to convince me all kinds of things. That I should borrow $50K more than I did, that I should get an ARM, that I shouldn't worry so much because I could always just re-fi in a few years. It was a hella sales pitch, and I had no clue.

But when you have no clue, you go back to basics, right? What did my parents do? They got a 30 year fixed mortgage and they bought a house they could afford. It was only by the skin of their teeth of course, but they knew they could make the actual payments. They did not then borrow more money so they could have the house all fixed up. Nope, we lived with the giant brown 1972 fridge for an awful long time. My dad did put in ceiling fans though, because that meant he could put off running the AC even longer. They've probably only had the house the way they wanted it for about the past six years or so, and now their putting on the final touches so they can sell it and let someone else start all over.

When I was buying, I made a spreadsheet. Here is my take home pay. Here is how much goes to student loans, groceries, gas, Netflix, beer, etc. This is how much I can afford for a mortgage payment after all that. If I lose my job, the worst cut in pay I expect is X and if I give up the Netflix and beer, and switch to generic brands, can I still afford that same payment? I found my number, I gave it to the mortgage lady and I said, "no matter what you tell me, I know this is what I can afford all in with taxes, insurance, and everything."

My final payment still came out a little higher, but not bad.

I do not have cable and it's only been three years since I gave up the pay as you go cell phone. I did buy a new fridge, because the old one broke. I did rehab the bathroom, because tiles were coming off the wall. I would love, love, love new furniture, a flat screen and a dishwasher, but I could not afford these things.

When KOJ came along I gave up pedicures, salon hair coloring, and a mess of other junk to be able to buy plane tickets in cash... OK, not cash, to be able to pay off plane tickets within a month or two.

So this lady is on the radio saying that she didn't understand. She is struggling not to lose a house into which she has invested a lot of time and cash so I feel bad for her, I do.

Then again, I listened to this while I was washing dishes, and she probably has a dishwasher which makes it pretty hard not to be annoyed. By the sound of her, I'm no smarter than this lady, but somehow I knew all those wacky mortgage products were a bad idea. I guess the main difference is that I have more fear than she.

I do believe in taking care of people. I don't want anyone to be homeless, I don't want anyone to have do without medical care, and I don't want anyone to go hungry. I'll support schools and college education and public parks and rec leagues. However, I will not happily subsidize your roof top deck and your Sub-Zero Fridge, because the one I bought from the Sear's Scratch and Dent store with actual cash works just fine.

Eh. Whatever. I do count myself lucky -- being born cheap and paranoid about cash has turned out to be a lucky thing. While I am underwater in my house, I just was cautious enough that this fact is wildly inconvenient, but it's not going to ruin my life. And I guess that's the difference. I don't want this lady's life to be ruined. However, maybe if she does get a bail out, I should get her dishwasher so that I won't have to hear about it on the radio while I washing up?
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(no subject) [Apr. 4th, 2011|10:07 pm]
I spent a silly amount of time beating people up in Wii Boxing. It's good to find things like that and remember that I do actually live up to my personal mythology. I like fighting games, and I like play fighting with the fellas. It's nice to be able to bring the physical part and the game part together. And nice to have a fresh reminder that all the talking I do isn't just nonsense, but that I don't completely conform to the social norms of a 39 year old woman. Yay me!

I was thinking about this subject as I heard a story on NPR about some blatantly sexist advert Ikea has going in the UK. Apparently it's all about who's messier, men or women. I really long for the day when discussions like that are considered to be as cringe worthy as discussions about whether or not white people are messier than black. Or Jews messier than Muslims. Stupid.

My sex is no greater predictor of neatness, political orientation, or video game selection than my race, religion, or socio-economic background. I would like to be judged for the content of my character and not for the content of my pants.

I think Feminism is kind of an unfortunate label. Like if we called the Civil Rights movement the Black Rights movement. The old line "none of us are free until all of us are free" holds up in the discussion of sexism as well.

My relationship with KOJ has really highlighted that. He is unafraid to do things considered "womanish" and therefore bad here. He doesn't mind going to a musical or touring around the Jane Austen museum in Bath. None of that makes him less of a Liverpool fan or changes the color of his underpants.

I feel like American men miss out on a lot because they've been trained to roll their eyes and groan at so much. At least as a woman, I can get some cool points for liking comic books and video games, even if it does mean putting up with some nonsense along the way. It seems like men stand to get a lot more grief if they try out something traditionally relegated to women. ah, if only the average man knew just how many extra points he'd get for donning breeches at a Contre Dance (I don't know if I could get KOJ to do that either).

Certainly there are plenty of American men who don't put up with those kinds of artificial boundaries, but I had a hard time finding one. I'm glad I'm in a relationship where we're both open to checking out things the other likes. We can have a nice day on a Jane Austen tour, or a nice day at the bar watching sports and eating wings.
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(no subject) [Feb. 19th, 2011|03:31 pm]
It was warm in Baltimore yesterday, warm enough that I could smell the spring and I felt a little sad wondering if London spring would smell as good. Of course, that Baltimore smell turns ugly fast as ninety degree days descend.

The other day someone asked me if were maximizing my time with friends and family. Of course I'm not. Whenever one of those, "this is the last time that..." moments comes into my head, I run away from that precipice as soon as I can. If did anything besides pretend that everything was completely normal, I'd go mad. I think this is why I'm delaying on talking to realtors and wedding dress shopping. I can take piles to Goodwill and get the house ready to sell all the while pretending that I'm just cleaning up.

I want to leave. I will be happy living in London and I will be very glad to be with Kristjan everyday. However... well, best not to think about that. Stupid old Baltimore!

Sometimes I think the residents of this town are like battered wives. We love it, we hate it, it's very bad for us, but we just love it.

Time to retell my favorite Baltimore joke. How many Baltimore City Residents does it take to change a light bulb? The entire city. One to change it, and the rest of the town to bellyache about how much better the old light bulb was.
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