Oranges and Gasoline

California I'm moving out to California To find my place in the sun Beneath the lemon trees I'm living on oranges and gasoline Hummingbirds humming, helicopters hovering California will you take me in To your soft brown hills & tiger lily thrills California - Amy Correia

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Nobody here but little ole me


I start my new job next Tuesday. I don't know how I feel about that.

My MRI came back clear. But I'm dying to see what my brain looks like now so I'm gonna order the latest scans on cd.

Autumn is here. It seems crazy to me that Autumn could be here on the 5th of September. But the apples on my tree are readying and the wind is back. Sigh. Winter is only a few soups and a carved pumpkin away. I am not ready, able or willing.

Eric and I are driving up to Glasgow this friday to get my Indefinite Leave to Remain Visa. One more year and I'll be a dual citizen. How did this all happen? The goals are to not get lost in the badlands and wind up with no tyres and smashed foreheads from a "Glasgow Handshake" from the locals, and to make Eric eat a fried mars bar.

We've gone organic. I do notice a big taste difference in meat and the veg & dairy seems to last longer as well. We're also giving up processed snack food except for Cadbury brunch bars, but at least those have whole grains. And chocolate. Mmmm chocolate.

We'll be booking our trip to San Diego for Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks. Hip hip hooray.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Codeine Dreams

They sell paracetamol (basically Tylenol) with codeine over the counter here, which is good. I took one in a Quixotic fantasy of making a dent in the massive headache I had all day on Saturday before I went to bed. I know better. Codeine gives me the strangest dreams.

I dreamt that I was at the docks fiddling around with my boat when some scary crime syndicate type guys came nosing around. I took refuge in a warehouse and found out from some people in there what they were after. They wanted people with boats to make some shipments to Korea. Cue next dream sequence. I'm wandering around some canal in Korea (does Korea have canals? Because if it does it looks a lot like Amsterdam) and I find out what the shipments were supposed to be: puppies. Oh no you think! Puppies for Korean hot dogs! But no my friends, my dream imagination is much sicker than that. They wanted puppies to stuff cushions. Yes, there is a dire shortage of cushion stuffing in Korea and puppies work just the treat. I walk into a store and forlornly pick up a cushion. It moves. I can feel the perfect outline of a snuggly puppy body in the cushion. My god, they pack them alive. Some ripping insues and I wake up, very out of sorts.

The moral of this story is don't buy cushions in Korea and don't take anything with codeine before you go to sleep.

Sunday we had plans. It was Pajamas and Fried Potatoes day. We planned to sleep in late, eat a big, big breakfast and wear our pajamas all day. The rule was that we were not to leave the house. Glorious. On saturday I had bought some lovely little pork & leek link sausages so I fried a couple of those up for dinner until their skins were dark chestnut brown and sticky and I made something that made me feel like my Mom was standing right there in the kitchen with me. Sliced up a couple of big potatoes (skin on) and parboiled them for 15 minutes then piled them in a huge skillet with a sliced onion and some oil. Cook them until they're crusty and you can't resist picking the crustiest ones out to nibble on anymore and serve up with a lusty dollop of ketchup. Mom rules. I served it up to Eric with some Linda McCartney vegetable sausages and he gave the greatest compliment, "You can make this again, anytime." Life is good.

Monday, August 07, 2006

And you thought old Eskimos had it bad



Another one of life's little mysteries has been solved. Whilst gardening I talked to my neighbor about the bee cemetery. There's a hive on the aerial on top of the chimney. Apparently they push the old bees out of the hive, which roll down the roof to their death on our garden below. Suddenly and ice flow and a chunk of seal blubber seem humane.

Had my MRI on Saturday. I had forgotten how claustrophobic those things are. It's disconcerting to open your eyes and see the machine inches from your face and no way out but a panic button of shame. It's been 3 years since my last one. My how time flies.

Hope to hear something from the job in a few weeks once they get the CRB back. Let's hope they don't discriminate against halfwits. Because I can't be arsed to apply for anymore jobs.

I hear we're going to get America's heatwave soon. You could at least have sent some fish tacos, fritos and root beer along with it stupid Yankee imperialists.

My secret wish for today: I wish I was sitting in one of those wooden huts along La Jolla cove and it was storming with really high surf hitting the rocks and spraying mist everywhere, with a cup of coffee and a good book and my camera.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Bee Cemetery

Bee Cemetery

Currently Reading: Every Light in the House Burnin' by Andrea Levy

Verdict: Very entertaining so far

We've been eating our dinner outside during this heatwave. We moved the small table and chairs from the bottom of the garden onto the small paved terrace by the back door. It's in the shade during the evening and is far enough from the apple tree that the squirrels feel safe enough to feed while we eat our supper. Unfortunately, this evening the terrace bit was scattered with a confetti of dead honeybees. One can only ponder what on earth could have caused the Bee Beirut in that shady spot. At least the bumblebees are still happily snorting their pollen cocaine from the dwarf lilac a mere 3 feet away. Nature is a cruel mistress.

So is man. I've been glued to the news with the coming apocolypse in the Middle East. Its a tinderbox there and I think the world is going to be changing faster than we know. I can't imagine what life would be like if you had to cower in fear in your own home. To imagine that one safe place where you can walk around in your underwear and eat peaches from a tin in glorious seclusion being shattered by a poorly aimed rocket. Castles and moats may come back into fashion. Or maybe giant geodesic domes made out of the kind of glass they put in the popemobile.

Somebody out there likes me

Things finally seem to be moving on the job front. I met with a recruiter last week, she had a job in Hexham that was long term temp but I decided it wasn't for me. Firstly it would only ever be temp without the benefit of the short term assignment. It's an NHS job that has no funding for a temp position, and it's admin but helping the PA to the Director meaning I get to do whatever she doesn't want to. No thank you.

Another recruiter gave my CV to a company I really, really, really want to work for. It's American. Hip hip hooray!! Still waiting to hear back from them but it's my numero uno choice because of great salary, travel opportunities, location, interesting business and did I say they're American! I have to stop myself from twirling around the house like an extra from Chorus line singing "I hope I get it. God I hope I get it."

Had an interview on Monday for another NHS job and was offered the position that afternoon. Good points and bad points for that one. Good points are that it's only part time, I'd only work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and who wouldn't love that. Bad points are the salary is so much less than the job I'm drooling over. But the people seem really nice and the office is airconditioned. You'd think I'm being sarcastic there but it's like Zambia here with the lack of elevators and air conditioning.

This job hunting in a foreign land has been interesting.
1. Its ummm interesting to try and convert your American degrees and qualifications to fit in the checkboxes here.

2. The whole process is sooooooooooo slow. It takes weeks and weeks to get a response, if they even bother to do that. Why advertise something if you won't even bother to send a rejection letter.

3. I've never seen ruder rejection letters in my life. Polite British? Ha.

4. You wouldn't believe what they're allowed to ask you in interviews and on applications. They can ask your age, marital status, religion and the health questions, my sweet lord. They can ask you when you last saw the doctor and why, what medications you take and your whole health history. Which brings up the negative to the NHS job I was offered. I have to pass a health questionnaire to get the job. Anything major in the past that could reoccur could disqualify me. Hmm, I wonder if brain tumor would qualify for that. You think? Hahahaha. Oh well....

5. Salaries here are a joke. And they're about as funny as a rubber crutch.


But anyway, I hope to be singing a different tune sometime in August. Something like "hi ho hi ho, it's off to work I go."

So cross your fingers, cross your legs, say a prayer, or eat a doughnut for me, please.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hey You Halfwit

I feel different after my right anterior temporal lobectomy. It's hard to explain and I need to talk through my ideas on it. I feel like everyone must be sick to death of hearing about it and it was such a traumatic time, I'm sure they want to leave it behind. But it interests me, for several reasons.

Firstly, it's important to me to be able to tell if things I am experiencing are normal. If I'm normal. Part of me is afraid that something is missing and part of me wants complete control and understanding of every small detail of my body's functioning. I suppose it's because something rare and scary came out of the blue in the past. I need to know if my leg twitches because that's a normal consequence of having neurons severed or if I'm going to get Parkinsons in 5 years. It's frustrating that there doesn't seem to be any information available on how the brain heals or what people actually experience in the years after brain surgery.

About the missing bits. Before my surgery I was an avid music fan. I had bought over 900 cds. I spent loads on the latest imports of music magazines. I was in the know. I was the person to ask about new bands. I went to concerts. Now.... I still like music. The operative word there being like. It's not a major part of my life anymore. I find it really hard to get into new music. I've discovered only two new artists since my surgery that I really like. And they're not difficult artists. I still like most of the music I liked before my surgery, save some of the more ambient or experimental bands. But that's where it stops. That feels like something is missing.

I know the kind of surgery I had is not recommended for musicians because the temporal lobe is where music is processed. But I wonder if it's all auditory memory. When I was young and taking flute lessons, my instructor often gave me tapes of the pieces I was learning to take home because she said my auditory memory was very strong and I learned better that way. Now I'm insecure about that. There's a common routine in our house that goes something like this.
E: I told you that yesterday
Me: No, you didn't
E: Yes. I did.
Before I could remember whole conversations in great detail, the place they happened, what was going on around at the time. Now I seem to be losing whole conversations.

I think realising what is happening is good. I can make notes. Not like the guy in Memento notes, but just notes and lists, I do more of that nowadays anyway. Maybe it's more a function of age. But I just have no idea, and that's what bugs me.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy

I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy and it's the fourth of July. And I've been thinking alot lately about being an American, and an American expat in particular.

Its a kind of limboland. You lose one country and never really gain another. Sure, you feel comfortable in the new place. Your home is beautiful and comfortable and you have found new favourite foods and tv shows and have old favourites shipped in, but when you leave the house, you know. You know everytime you buy something and the cashier says "Where are you from". You know you're a foreigner. No matter how politely you try to adapt, you will always be "The AMERICAN".

So this new world is never completely at ease with you or you with it. But you're comfortable and there are bonuses, real holiday time, fabulous countryside open to everyone, varied weather and beautiful seasons and a loving husband you wished and waited all your life for.

I know what they mean by "you can never go home again". Because home isn't a place. I could go back to San Diego but it would be starting a new life yet again. It's too easy to condense the past. See, life is made up of lots of little parts. When you look back the good bits tend to get all condensed together to make a long, boring documentary into a jazzy little short story. But it ain't like that.

It doesn't really matter where you go, you still have to pay bills and look for jobs and clean the toilet.

Maybe I shouldn't worry so much. Despite decades of bad or no planning I've ended up okay. I think the trick is to not read lifestyle or fashion magazines.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Life is like a box of chocolates

Life is like a box of chocolates. Only it's not the one you ordered.
Take Saturday for instance. A fine day. A lazy summer day, the air humid enough to be soft, but dry enough not to hang over you like a wet blanket. A day of promise.
Eric and I slept in and then walked into town. We had a cup of coffee at Nero, dropped off the treasurer work at Oxfam and posted another CV for yet another job in town. A lovely stroll around and a twirl through the verdant park. Then a drive to the Wellington Pub at Riding Mill. A pint of shandy for me and a ribeye baguette. A glass of rioja and a plate of breads with dipping oils for Eric. Then home. A little afternoon delight, a refreshing nap then a drive in the car to take some pictures of the glorious English summertime countryside. Took a lovely walk by the river in Whitfield. Lots of good photos. Then home to a light supper and a drive into town for a movie. Sounds great right? Sounds idyllic.
Only England lost the world cup that afternoon. That is bad for two reasons.
Reason #1.
Eric and I parked the car in the market square and went to the only cinema in town which is above one of the rowdy pubs in town. We saw Flight 93. The movie was stressful and the cinema even more so since it was like a sauna inside. Come back out of the movie, negotiate our way past drunken chavs to our car. Some idiot has parked too close on my side so I have to climb in from the other side. Then a super moron has parked illegally behind me, boxing me in. Luckily a cop was there and helped me out of the space, just in time for the super moron to show up with his equally drunk girlfriend to berate me for daring to want to exit the lot. Super moron isn't super for nothing. He's also ace (note: sarcasm) at insults. "F'king Fat B'h". Oh really? I never noticed my weight, but now that you point it out... Egads! I mean, come on. Is that the best you can do? I'm taking it he didn't get an A in creativity in school. I refuse to let such drab insults do anything but make me laugh at the ineptitude.
You know, if we were in San Diego, the cops would have had that guy eating asphalt with his hands cuffed behind his back for even getting in the car drunk and his car on the back of a flatbed. But alas it's England. Home of the community service officers. Not even armed with the wit of a bobby, let alone the nightstick.
Reason #2.
When I was a child, I used to daydream that some sort of nuclear holocaust had happened and I was the only one left in the world. So I would live in Disneyland. I would get one of those cars from the autopia and cruise around the park in style. No waits in rides for lines. Anything I wanted from the shops. Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty I am free at last. What's that you say? No one to run the rides? No one to deliver gas or fresh milk? Bah humbug say I.
It's kind of like that when the England game is on during the World Cup. Everything is quiet. You have the whole place to yourself. But then they lost. Bastards.