30 December 2008


When I first sat down to this post, I thought, 'I wonder if people think that I've fallen off the face of the earth or died or something?' Then I thought, what if I WERE dead?? Nobody would know! Should I prepare a post-mortem post for a close friend or family member to put on my blog on my behalf after I'm gone?? What would I say? What would my Facebook status be and who would change it for me? Should it be 'Sharona is...no longer inhabitating this earthly realm'? Is that too obscure? Does it just sound like I'm high? Maybe I should I be witty about the whole matter: 'Sharona is...preparing a lightning bolt with your name on it.' Will people post loving farewell comments? Will they say a word about me at my upcoming high school reunion? As I started to sniffle over my loss, I suddenly thought, 'What is WRONG with me?'

Less related to death:

My boxes finally arrived from San Francisco. I am alarmed to find that I packed three jars of organic peanut butter and two large costco-sized containers of tylenol p.m. As a friend says, 'That's a helluva sandwich.' On the bright side, the winter is now going to FLY by.

So far London hasn't been as rainy as expected. It's cloudy every day, to be sure; the sun a darting mistress, but in terms of wetness, I've had to open my umbrella a mere half dozen times in the past three months--always on a Saturday afternoon and always when I want to take a photograph of something. The rain has not yet been combined with a blustery gale, which is a small but appreciated blessing having dealt with the sideways-rain of San Francisco on many saturated occasions. When I express this 'dryer-than-expected' sentiment at parties, however, I am always warned: 'You haven't seen January or February yet!' So I am NATURALLY looking forward to that. I will let you know how it is in t-minus-two days.

'How are you finding London so far?' is the number one question I am asked--by curious Londoners, by American ex-pats, by anyone and everyone I meet, from the line at the cafe to the holiday dinner party. I struggle with this one on many levels. If I sing the city's praises ('I love it! There are endless places to go and see and so many restaurants I want to try!') I end up sounding a bit delirious. So to lend some sincerity to the sentiment, I feel the need to express a 'point of struggle.' Most people expect the weather to be the most difficult acclimation, so I stick with that: 'But the cold! I am having a terrible time getting used to the cold!' As a result of this bizarre dance this question always puts me to, I am beginning to wonder, how DO I find London? And how should I best answer this question? Perhaps literally is the way: 'Using the tube map. And you?'

I'm off to develop the photos from the week I just spent in the fairy tale that is Scotland...land of castles, pints, and grazing sheep. None of which I actually photographed.

18 December 2008

What's in a name?

Her email is the sort of address that one is assigned: jenn435@maildotcom. You never pick this address. And yet, I never thought you settle for it, either, when the domain suggests it as a viable alternative to your first choice, 'jennlastname.' Even 'jennbirthday'--while impossible for anybody else to remember--makes sense.

Alas, when jenn435 sends an email, I don't need to open it to know what it's going to say: 'You're an amazing woman,' it reads. 'Now send this to nine other amazing women, including me, for good luck.' In Monotype Corsiva, size 18, hot pink. Lime green blinking graphics remind me that kittens are cute and purple angels wish me blessings. I think about forwarding this on to my grandmother and aunt before realizing that they sent me the same thing last week and consequently already have wealth unforetold.

So what do you do with these mass emails from friends so old you no longer have any connection with them? Do you let them know that you first became friends with them when you were eight, an age at which you taped together empty toilet paper rolls to make binoculars, trampolines were all it took for street cred, and any friend big enough to pull you in your wagon was worth hours of your time? Notably when their grandmother lived across the street and rejoiced in making an endless stream of molasses cookies, which meant you could turn down your parents' offering of an after-school apple? Do you tell them that things changed when they dropped out of high school to have their first baby while you opted to get a degree, leave the state, start anew?

You hit 'reply.' You type in the e(mail)quivalent to the secret handshake you shared to get into The Club in which your sisters weren't allowed: 'Luv you! Ur amazing, too!' Hitting 'send,' you realize that while this may be your lifelong e-burden, it was worth it. Because of her, you know pig latin, and how to throw pine cones at cars from the safety of a hidden tree branch. These are the lifelong blessings she's given. What's a forward full of fairies?

17 December 2008

Pub Cricket

I got into a discussion with a Welsh gal named Marie on Saturday night on the subject of road trip games--or 'car journeys,' as they call them here. Apparently where she hails from they don't seek out 50 states on license plates, or yell at cows, or poke their siblings when the parents aren't looking. No, in Wales-land, they play a game called Pub Cricket. In Pub Cricket--and stick with me here, because it's about to get convoluted--the first person to spot a pub gets the number of points that the pub has legs. 'What?' you are saying, in baffled confusion, as did I. 'LEGS? Pubs have LEGS?' 'Yes!' she replied. 'For example, say you pass a pub called The Horse and Carriage. That's an eight-pointer! You have to figure it takes at LEAST two horses to draw the carriage. And how many legs do two horses have? Eight! So you get eight points!' 'So...if you pass a place called The White Lion, you get four points?' 'Exactly! And the Crowned Prince would be two!' 'What if it's called The Queen's Head? How many points is that?' 'It depends. If *I* see it, it's two points, because the Queen's Head used to have a body. If my brother sees it, zero.'

Now I can't pass a pub without counting its legs. I am currently TOTALLY winning this game, though 'technically' I'm the only player...

16 December 2008

Best Venn Diagram Ever

I remember my first Venn diagram. I was in fourth grade, and I remember thinking, 'This is math?' It was but a precursor to the year spent under the torturous gaze of my ninth-grade geometry teacher, a woman with a strange, dark streak who seemed as though she would not be out of place at a seance or ritual sacrifice or, say, a ninth-grade geometry classroom. However, Venn diagrams and evil spirits aside, geometry was a subject in which I did well because I do see math as more of a letters subject, all logical and magical and makes-me-want-to-travel-through-portals-into-other-dimensions, which I actually believe is possible because why NOT?

That confession aside, please see the best Venn diagram ever, sent to me by Jeremy, the same man responsible for helping me pack up my San Francisco life before this current travel abroad and also the sort of person you would want with you were you to cross into otherworlds. You just know he'd bring the towel.

And now that I've gotten supremely off-track and made absolutely no connection between the introduction and the actual item being introduced, please let us switch mindsets altogether from the wonders of dimensional travel to the wonders of everyday life:

14 December 2008

Holy. Effing. Awesome.

Seriously. Katy just sent me this BACON FLOW CHART. Click on it to check out the hilarity.

11 December 2008

It's amazing what you can get with a baby strapped to your chest.

Today as I took Baby 3 for his walk (an outing we make at least twice a day given that the baby bjorn is like crack for him and the only thing that will soothe him when he's grizzly), we happened past a local library. On a whim, I stopped in. I knew that I couldn't get a card due to the fact that I don't have proof of address (in the form of a utility bill or rent check, for example), but it was worth going to check it out and get in out of the cold.

Within minutes, the librarian was cooing over 'my child.' I felt no need to correct the impression as I subtly inquired, 'How do I go about getting a library card?' 'Oh, just fill this out! And would you like a card for your child, as well? And take this flyer about our children's programmes!' Five minutes later, I walked out with a shiny card in my pocket, a baby coo'ing on my chest, and a book tucked under my arm. From now on any time I need a door greased, I'm takin' this little guy with me. We are unSTOPPABLE.

Now to the liquor store...

09 December 2008

Just when you think the world has gone dark...

It gets dark here early. Like 3:30 in the afternoon early. This has succeeded in making me more of a homebody than usual; the sort of person who races home in the cold to fuzzy slippers and fleece blankets and a mug of tea and declines to go out, even when going out means making new friends and trying new places. I keep telling myself that when spring comes I'll start making an effort, but really when given the opportunity, I can completely sequester myself for months and have very little human contact with very little regret.

I did that my last semester in college when I had my own studio apartment above the garage of the chair of the university english department, a nutty old man who only charged 250/month and let me paint the walls yellow, brick red, and avocado green, a la Amelie, my obsession of the minute. It was my first time living alone and I loved it. I listened to Philip Glass, took bubble baths, tasted wine for the first time, and taught myself chess theory. I learned that I was happy eating the same thing for dinner every night (quesadillas) and increasingly found myself declining invitations to meet up with friends. However, the more I withdrew, the more antisocial I became. I lost the ability to converse easily and I lost the patience for small talk. Large groups began to irritate me, and small groups I couldn't lose myself in, so I avoided them all.

Here the weather is doing the same thing to me that living alone did back then. It makes me think, 'Why bother?'

And then a package full of sunshine arrived last Thursday. Katy, wonderful, future-wife Katy sent me so much goodness that I can't even handle it. It was a package to bring a girl to tears. And if I were back home, living in a bubble, I would've popped that bad boy just to hump her with gratitude. I really can't thank her enough for this.

Here are just a few of the goodies that have renewed my sense of life and purpose and woke me from my winter-induced apathy, goodies that brighten my perspective every time I open the cupboard door...and yes, biscuits have the power to brighten my day.

Napkins of infinite wisdom:

'Porn for Women', courtesy of Chronicle Books: each page features a male model doing some sort of domestic chore with vigor and enthusiasm, like knitting booties with a caption reading 'I'm so excited for your sister to have her baby!'

And last but not least...BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE, from Deee's and my favorite kiosk at the Ferry Building Farmer's Market and also where Katy and I would take turns doing runs before church on Sundays. Katy aptly picked the flavor 'Giant Steps,' (I don't know WHAT she's trying to say there), and it's so good I'm tempted to drop some grounds in the tub with me and bathe in it.

Now off I go to my childminding job, with a spring in my step, coffee on my breath, and porn in my pocket. Life is good.

04 December 2008


Drunk old man: Ah, God bless me, I'm lovely!

The Death Cold

For over a week now I've been struggling with a little thing I have come to term The Death Cold. There seems to be no cure, no amount of sleep, no thousands of mgs of Vitamin C that can nuke this bad boy. At last I broke down and went to Boots to buy cold and flu medicine, only to find that my old beloved friend Nyquil (and sure, Dayquil, join in the party, though really, let's be honest, your nightlife brother steals your thunder) is not sold here...What would I drink (I mean, sip, in the quantity of 2 tablespoons) at night when I couldn't sleep? What would wipe out all of my ills? And so I resorted to the label-reading of all the new-to-me products on the shelf. Eventually I came to the conclusion that either the English are healthier, and that is why they seem to only have one cold and flu medicine, just under different labels, or two, the world has conspired against me and is delightfully planning my demise, hands rubbing together in scheming glee. Deciding at the end of a fruitless twenty minutes just to try all the medicinal options before me, I struggled to the register with caplets, tablets, syrups, teas, and lozenges overflowing in my arms. I spontaneously tossed some antibacterial handwipes and two Miffy kleenex boxes onto the precariously balanced pile before dumping it all unceremoniously onto the till counter.

And so the attack began: two caplets in, one fizzy vitamin c drink. One vapour-action dissolving lozenge, one mug of sickly sweet and tangy lemon and honey flu tea, two more caplets, one more fizzy vitamin c drink. A tablespoon of the cough syrup down, causing a violent gag reflex due to a flavour that can best be described as 'bile-forward with a vomit-like finish,' causing the entire bottle to be promptly binned with a swear word and a silent prayer to the absent Nyquil gods. And so goes the diet, for five straight days.

Is progress being made? I don't know. I definitely feel like my body's not my own, which can probably only be an improvement given how I treat it when it IS my own. Other than that, a sort of homeostasis seems be in place, the two warring halves of sick v. well each making headway at various times of the day, only to eventually call it a draw, as though they're staring each other down across a battlefield, daring one another to try and pull something funny. 'Okay, you can make the nose run, but I draw the line at adding a cough. You at least want a tickly throat? Okay, then relinquish some fatigue. Hey! Don't you DARE draw that mucus gun unless you're prepared to give up a headache. Okay, agreed.' And so the camps skirmish and symptoms attack and then retreat, taking turns, and no side seems to be winning the war...I fully anticipate my body remaining encamped here indefinitely, eventually pulling out playing cards and trading cigarettes.

In the meantime, if I seem a bit dull lately--and I mean dull here in the lack-luster, not-as-brightly-shining sense of the word, not the ennui-inducing sense of the word, although many apologies if the latter is the one that is more descriptive--then I promise you it is only a spell and it will ideally be over soon. After all, I've got a vitamin cannon up my sleeve.

02 December 2008

Laundry in London

I'm trying to do laundry right now, but the washing machines here...well, make it a bit difficult. They are apparently designed with midgets in mind. With a loading capacity of approximately three shirts, four socks, and a pair of underwear, you must run approximately fifteen loads for a day's worth of clothing. Washing your bedding? One sheet per load, please. Throw in a pillowcase if you dare. The wash cycle takes about 45 minutes (unlike the fifteen minute cycles in the Land of the Giants), while the dryer cycle takes...oh, wait, no dryers here. Unless you make a decent income and therefore expect a certain quality of life, or have a baby and forced your spouse to get you one, as the prospect of hanging four billion teeny tiny onesies over drying racks would no doubt push you over the brink of madness. But any home outfitted by the lower or middle class since, say, 2007, is most likely dryer-less. I don't mind it so much given that I hung-dry most of my clothing in San Francisco, but there I had the luxury of a sunny bay window and a pleasant ocean breeze to do the trick. Here you would only open your window if you had a death wish and thought biting gales of frigid rain were a pleasure. And so you rely on the radiator: those ancient sources of heat lining the walls of each room, often broken, and with a surface area rivalling that of a tea saucer. Luckily, given that one can only wash a hanky at a time, this seems to work out.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go put in a pair of socks.