Oct 01 2016

Very British Problems in All its Incarnations

As mentioned in my dispatch about self-doubt, the Twitter feed Very British Problems (@SoVeryBritish) has been something of a comfort in regard to my ability to fit into my new country.

First, I discovered it had been turned into a book, which was on sale in the Kindle edition for .99 so I got that and read it in a couple hours. It has many of the tweets divided into categories, as well as the occasional illustration of an awkward Englishman in a bowler. There are also several chapters especially written for the book including two on British history—one of actual history and one projecting what the future likely holds—a test to find out just how British the reader is, and a chapter on that most British of topics—the weather. That one had me laughing out loud.

Then I found their website. Oh, the things they have. When we have disposable income, I’m getting this:

The answer is always yes. (source)

The answer is always yes. (source)

Finally, they’ve made the franchise into a television show. It’s a sort of documentary. Narrated by Julie Walters (Mrs Weasley and many other characters you’d recognise).

Each episode tackles an aspect of life and the myriad ways the British awkward their way through it.

Subjects include other people, out and about, feelings and emotions, Christmas, at school, with friends, and on holiday.

That’s it—there are only seven episodes thus far.

Contributors include James Corden, Nigel Havers, Ruth Jones, Susan Calman–a Scottish comedian I hadn’t heard of before, but now I’m in love with, Stephen Mangan, Jonathan Ross, Johnny Vegas, as well as many, many others. Also included are the opinions of an American living in England, an Irish woman and a Canadian. Their insights are hilarious.

The second season brings in Jack Whitehall, Catherine Tate, Rebecca Front (The Thick of it—if you haven’t seen it go do so now) and David Tennant as regulars.

Between sections are animations similar to the ones in the book that introduce the next topic.

I issue a warning: you may find yourself when watching the show. Rebecca Front demonstrated the way she greets people she already knows and it’s more of a ‘stop’ gesture than a side-to-side wave, which is appropriate, as she doesn’t want them to come any closer or to speak to her.

Then I realised I do the exact same thing. Just… STOP. But Hiiiiii!

There were other similar moments, as well. Oh dear.

So, if you’d like to learn more about that most baffling of creatures—the British—or just laugh at them (or if you’d like to know you’re not alone in being embarrassed by everything all the time) I highly recommend Very British Problems. Just check Netflix. 5/5

Sep 24 2016

I Gave It My Best Shot

We leave the country in less than thirty-six hours. What a roller coaster the preparation for this move has been.

It’s not over–we still don’t have a permanent place to live or any furniture of our own. And I rather want to take a break and just relax for a couple days but there’s some serious insanity in store for the final two days…

I’d like to thank Brian Gordon of Fowl Language comics for so accurately capturing every single day of the last six weeks or so:

If he wore underpants no doubt he'd have on two pair. (source)

If he wore underpants no doubt he’d have on two pair. (source)


The bonus panel is accurate as all get out.

Sep 23 2016

Dispatch 005: Self Doubt Do-Si-Do

Source is Google--this comes up when you type in 'do-si-do' to the search engine.

Source is Google–this comes up when you type in ‘do-si-do’ to the search engine.

(From Wikipedia--basically, you wind up where you started.)

(From Wikipedia–basically, you wind up where you started.)

I once worked for a woman who’d decided to open an independent bookshop during an economic downturn after being a doctor for decades.

Being that this was a risky business decision at the best of times, and doctoring tends to be a more highly esteemed career than ‘independent bookshop owner’, customers often asked why she’d decided to open a bookshop. Her reply:

Well, I’ve wanted one for twenty-five years.

Once, someone asked if she’d talked to librarians, other bookshop owners or anyone else in the industry about the current state of the business and received ‘No, nope and uh-uh’ in response.

After a pregnant pause, said customer laughed and said something to the effect of, ‘I guess you’ll be coming at it from a fresh perspective, then.’

(She had attended a couple of paid workshops for people who wanted to open independent bookshops, but I think ‘paid’ is a key word. They wouldn’t stay in business if the people who attended their workshops left reviews about the real talk they’d received.)

The point is: This individual had a particular idea of what owning a small bookshop would be like, had nurtured it like a precious bonsai for a quarter of a century (the seeds of which had germinated prior to Amazon or big box stores) and no shadow of reality was going to fall over her precious baby. Including the fact that the median number of books read by Americans in a year is six. (Don’t click that unless you want to be seriously depressed.)

The woman was an object lesson in doing what you’re good at rather than what you love the idea of.

My fear is that Oxford is my bookshop.

I have wanted to move to England since I was sixteen–so, twenty-two years.

However, I have visited (though not for long periods of time) and I know enough about the political landscape to know it is much more aligned with who I am–one of those pro-choice, anti-death penalty, anti-gun, pro-socialized health care liberals, which even the conservatives in Britain are on side with.

The English people and I are similar in many other ways, as evidenced by my deep connection with 98% of the tweets on Very British Problems. K and I recently learned this had been made into both a book and television show (check Netflix). Both are hilarious—the latter of which has James Corden saying at one point:

I don’t know why I do it, but I do it all the time.

In regard to some nonsensical British polite awkwardness in which I also engage.

Also it’d be lovely to have a dime for every time someone has said:

Are you being serious? I can never tell, you have such a dry sense of humor.

While we’re on it—I can have years-long relationships without feeling the need to know your name and the only reason to speak to strangers in public is if one of us is on fire.

Speaking of fire—if you want to know how I am? I’m all right. Whether I’ve won the lottery or my hair is actually ablaze—’I’m all right.’ For some reason, Americans like to ask, ‘Just all right?’ As though it’s my job to have an outstanding day for them.

The British think you’re high or a bit simple if you’re walking around with a smile plastered on your face. No more being commanded to smile! (There’s a general discomfort with emotion—yours and anyone else’s. I understand these people.)

I’ve never felt connected to my birthplace—perhaps if I had been raised in an area less cram-packed with homophobic, racist, fundamentalist Christian Republicans with guns I’d feel differently. Alas, I was not. I do not feel welcome here and have not done since I was a teen.

I do not romanticize England, however. I’ve read enough memoirs, news and Reddit threads by foreigners living in England and watched enough documentaries, news and films about the bleaker side of Britain to have some idea what is what. I’ve also been married to an Englishman for ten years.

They may not have rednecks, but they have chavs.


[That was filmed where I live–Wilmington, NC–not Utah. Vicky Pollard is the chavviest of the chavs.]

But what if there are things I’ve not learned about? What if I’ve been focusing on the pros so heavily I’ve dismissed how much weight the cons will carry?

What if I suddenly, somehow, weirdly, actually miss something here?

I’m counting on the positives outweighing the negatives and this being typical pre-move jitters. I think I’ve done as much due diligence as is possible while lacking the funds to live there for an extended period.

So, here’s to the number of actual bookshops keeping Oxford from being my proverbial bookshop.

Sep 08 2016


When will the fashion for orange and blue on film posters be over? (source)

When will the fashion for orange and blue on film posters be over? (source)

Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) is a writer with a contract to fulfill and he’s not writing. Or doing much of anything else, really. (Sponging off your girlfriend isn’t exactly a job per se…)

Said girlfriend (Abbie Cornish) has enough and breaks it off. Eddie crosses paths with his ex-brother-in-law Vernon (Johnny Whitworth). Ol’ Vernon used to be a drug dealer but now he’s on the straight and narrow. Yes indeedy, he’s corporate, though still pushing drugs. Just, you know, the legal variety.

He gives Eddie a sample pill to try that will sort out his problems. He gives Eddie the line about how we all only use a micron of our brains and how amazing it would be if we used 100% , which has been debunked already and only makes me rage out a little but whatever.

Eddie takes the pill and whizzbam he’s using all of his brain and making connections between everything he’s ever seen/thought/smelled/heard/licked.

I ask you, what person wouldn’t go back for more.

Remember how Vernon said he’d gone corporate? Well, Vernon was a bit of a fibber.

Eddie winds up with a sizable amount of these suckers. But he also winds up on the radar of some people who want those pills. The sorts of people who break off your body parts and then feed them to you.

But Eddie has a plan. And his plan lands him right in front of Robert De Niro. (That’s intentional–it could be a bad thing, but in this case it’s what he wants.)

Hey, you know what’s a GOOD thing? The FDA. You know what you shouldn’t do? Take drugs that haven’t been thoroughly tested by them. Because you don’t know what will happen to you or your brain!

‘Congrats! You were already using 100% of your brain!’ (source)

I know I was a bit heavy on the snark up there, but I really enjoyed Limitless. The visuals were pretty, the acting was excellent, it was unpredictable.

This is a bit of a quibble but it bothers me: Why doesn’t the drug have a street name? Why does everyone call it NZT? Every other illicit drug has roughly fifteen slang terms. Why isn’t it called…I don’t know… Clarity? What with it being clear and it giving the user absolute clarity. People would call it Claire for short. ‘You seen Claire around?’ ‘Nah, man, she ain’t been around in awhile and I miss her. I can’t find any of my socks. Like, none of them, brah.’

It’s a television show now and I understand from a friend whose opinion I trust that it’s quite good. I haven’t seen it, but I definitely give the movie 5/5.

[This review was first published on a previous blog of mine.]

Sep 07 2016

Black Chalk by Christopher J. Yates

It began with six students from various backgrounds at the fictional Pitt College at Oxford University. And it ended in New York City in the present day. Sort of.

There are two stories being told. One of an American in England–Chad. Chad from the pig farm in upstate New York who managed to attend Oxford for a year.

The other story takes place fourteen years later. It is told by a person who has not recovered from that year at Oxford.

There were six of them–they’d invented a ridiculous, clever, devious, genius game–but it was only a game amongst friends, still.

And they’d been backed by an organization who made sure they played by the rules. The Games Society. There were loads of ‘societies’ at Pitt. Students were encouraged to join them. It’s healthy to get out there to do things. Engage.

So the gang from near and far invented a game and staked more money than some had on it.
And it wasn’t the game so much as the consequences.

You see, the consequences were specifically tailored to most destroy each person. Nothing physical, only psychological damage. You know, for fun!

Then someone died. Not during a consequence. But definitely due to the game.

There came a break in play but the final round must be dealt fourteen years later. To prepare himself, one of the final two is trying to remember what happened all those years ago, but his memory wasn’t all that outstanding to begin with and after basically allowing your cohort to give you PTSD it’s really shot to hell.

He writes and writes and tells his story and then goes about his daily routine. Trying to get his mind into some sort of shape to face the final round of this wretched game he started with his friends all those years ago.

* * *
I loved this book. I’m a big fan of anything set in Oxford and I love nefarious ‘games’ and little secret, incestuous societies. (Hello, The Secret History, which this book has been compared to in every single review and I’m going to do it again. But I loved them both.)

Yates has excellent insight into human psychology and gives the reader a range of believable reactions to increasingly stressful circumstances.

Black Chalk is hard to put down.


[I received this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.]

[This review originally appeared on another blog of mine.]

Sep 06 2016

Dispatch 004: The Obligatory Bureaucracy Post

I'd like to thank the one on the left for my husband moving to the U.S.--the one of my right for my moving to the U.K. (source)

I’d like to thank the one on the left for my husband moving to the U.S.–the one of my right for my moving to the U.K. (source)

Choosing to emigrate is choosing to be complicit in the murder of many innocent trees.

It’s easiest not to fight it—to simply accept your fate and do as you’re told to the best of your ability.

Some instructions you’ll be given will seem nonsensical and some forms will have more than one name, but soldier on you must.

It will be worth it in the end. Tell yourself that regularly. Surrender yourself to the bureaucracy.

K came to the States ten years ago. And the forms. Oh, the forms. And the fees. Oh, the fees.

One form led to another, which led to a biometric appointment. (They take your photo and fingerprints).

Everything is written in the same language that tax documents are written in. You know, that language you have to read eight times to comprehend and sometime, even then, wing it?

Pinterest was the source. Ugh. Why don't they make people source images there?

Pinterest was the source. Ugh. Why don’t they make people source images there?

K and I both speak English as a first language. I don’t know how people with English as a second or third language deal with it.

It can be an Alice in Wonderland experience—even once you’ve surrendered.

I couldn’t apply for my visa to enter the UK without an address over there, but we couldn’t book any sort of accommodation until K could turn in his notice (to work out when he would be leaving the country and could book his flight and place to stay). Now we’ve booked short-term accommodation and sent off my visa application and fingers crossed it arrives before his flight. Maybe I’ll get to leave on the same flight. Or perhaps I’ll be on a later flight. It’s an adventure!

Of course, trying to keep on top of all of the paperwork and everything that goes with it while taking care of all of the other things that need doing during a move is a recipe for moments of stupidity. See next section.

In order to obtain a Spouse Settlement Visa, I needed to have biometrics taken. These are done in Raleigh, which is about two hours from where we live.

When applying (on the completely legit sounding visa4UK site) they also booked your biometrics appointment. I’d have to get up much earlier than was normal for me, but fine, we all make sacrifices. I was just happy the date was soon.

Up early, I doze on the drive, we get there and discover I needed my passport and a second passport photo. This was written on the letter from the UK visa office, but when I’d asked K what I needed he said just my driving license.

I’d thought I’d read something about needing my passport and extra photo for…something at some point in the process, but after looking at a Russian novel’s worth of paperwork I figured those were for some other form.

Two hours and many thanks for GPS later, guess what.

Go ahead. Guess. (Source.)

Go ahead. Guess. (Source.)

After we instate a ‘both of us read all paperwork from here on out’ rule, the drive back is under-taken.

We ask about making another appointment and the guard says we can just come back whenever we’d like. Granted—there was only one other person waiting to be seen at the time, but… what government agency—state or federal—doesn’t take appointments…

Four days later we’re back in Raleigh (with the proper everything). The room is empty—except for the guard at the front and the three people working in cubicles along the wall—just as it was on our previous visit.

My backside has made barely a passing acquaintance with the chair when I’m called to the cubicle on the far left.

Fingerprints are taken digitally (there go any crime sprees in … anywhere, I suppose) and a photograph is taken. The woman is friendly and efficient and we chat about where I’m going and why.

The entire process consumes less than five minutes.

I am given a satisfaction survey card to fill out and place in a wooden box at the guard’s desk.

While filling it out I explain I was hoping for a bit more in exchange for all of the time we’d spent traveling to and from. Eight hours total. Fair dues, four of those hours were our fault for being out of our minds, but still.

In one way, I don’t want to spend more time waiting around since the drive was so long, but in another way, make it worth my while.

Have some feds in a windowless room stare at me for five minutes. Give me an x-ray. I’m not asking for a cavity search, but maybe make me think I’m going to get one or something. Come on.

When I got in the truck K thought I had left something in my bag (no bags or phones were allowed in the building). Despite having had his biometrics taken when moving to the U.S., the brief amount of time I was in the building was a surprise. He’d started a difficult level on the game he was playing thinking I’d be a while yet.

We send that information off and, once it’s returned with my visa I can book my flight.

One more thing down, at any rate.

That’s what you focus on.

Aug 20 2016

Dispatch 003: A Different Breed of People

or The Cravens vs the Yard Salers (pt 1)

Moving to the other side of an ocean will make a person re-evaluate how much you need all of the things you currently possess. Particularly when it costs an appendage or two to ship your possessions across said ocean.

Suddenly the things that have composed the backdrop of your life for fifteen years don’t seem all that vital.

A friend who’d moved even farther afield than we’re going (from Georgia to Japan) suggested a method, which was to start with only the things we loved most, then pack things we loved/needed a little less, etc. That way we’d begin the next chapter of our lives surrounded by our most treasured possessions.

This idea appealed greatly. When it came time to go through my library, though, my brain, pled, ‘No, no, I’ll read that book I’ve had twenty years and just haven’t read yet! I swear!’

No. No, you won’t. Prising the book out of my brain’s grasping, phantom hands, I’d put it in the ‘for sale’ boxes and, eventually, got my library down to about half its size.

K was much better at this task. He is ruthless. Of course, he arrived in the country ten years ago with only two pieces of luggage and I wondered if he understood he was meant to remain here after we married.

Then we got to the house and it turned out one of those pieces of luggage was mostly electronics and CDs.

K is not high maintenance.

Inspired by his example, it was easier to say, ‘Sell it!’ for other items.

Eventually, the cupboards, drawers and cabinets divested themselves of their contents. You’d be surprised just how much stuff will fit in a 400 square foot/37 square meters apartment. And we aren’t even hoarders.

This brings us to the yard sales.

Or yard sale number one, at any rate.

I’d only thrown… conducted? Hosted? Whatever. We’d tried to sell a boatload of my childhood toys (my childhood was in the 80s) many months ago and two people showed up. One of them bought something. Total haul: 4USD. Cha-CHING!

I’d also posted my toys on Craigslist and a local yard sale site on more than one occasion to no real luck.

Why don't people want to buy my stuff? It's baffling. (source)

Why don’t people want to buy my stuff? It’s baffling. And a little offensive. (source)

When it was time for this one, I put the ad up in three places—a neighborhood site called NextDoor, the local yard sale site and craigslist. The copy read:

My husband and I are leaving the country in September so we are selling a variety of things in order to avoid shipping them and to raise money so we are not destitute upon arrival in England.

Items for sale include, but are not limited to:

  • Books
  • CDs
  • Coffee mugs
  • Bookcases
  • Toys (Legos)
  • Lots of vintage toys from the 80s
  • Games
  • Kitchenware
  • Frames
  • Tools
  • Storage organizers

It’s basically an estate sale but no one died.

This is the first of two–the second will be closer to when we leave and will include anything not sold in this one (in case you miss it!) and the things we need for the moment but won’t need when it’s time to go.

We simply need to do this sale now, as the house is going feral on us and we’re beginning to fear for our lives.

Within four hours I had four emails. Two of which were asking about Legos and toys. In the morning I had two more asking just about the Legos.

K asked: Is Lego the street name for some kind of drug we don’t know about?

Then he tells me a story about a car boot (trunk) sale he and his mother went to to sell some of their things when he was younger. He said before they were even out of the car people were crowding around, trying to look in the windows.

It’s a little Night of the Living Yard Salers.


Look, now, I know how to deal with your type. (source)

Look, now, I know how to deal with your type. (source)

One guy emailed me three times between the time I posted the ad and when I got back to him, twelve hours later (you just know what he’s like in online dating, right) asking about how much for the Legos and all of the vintage toys.

He doesn’t even know what I have—and I have a lot, as my parents tried to buy my love.

I told him I hadn’t priced anything yet.

His response: Let me know when you do—I have cash.

Dude. Bro. Friend. Mate. Everyone has cash. That’s how they do it. Unless people are paying in gold bouillon now and I’m the last to know.

Is it less about the actual item and more about getting something so someone else doesn’t get it? I don’t know how these people work–their brains clearly function differently than mine.

We’ve decided to start it at 10, but I just know people will arrive earlier than that. Our friend who is basically the adult in our relationship, M, knows quite a bit about yard sales and she says 6 or 7am is typical.

These crazy people are going to be outside our house, scratching at the windows at 8.

Like this, except the blinding light of day. (source)

Like this, except in the blinding light of day. (source)

I’m going to be standing there with my half sword, trying to keep them back while we bring things out and someone will ask if that’s for sale, too.

Me: No, I’m trying to threaten you into acting like a sane person, you fool!
Them: I’ll give you $15 for it. $20 if it has a holster.
Me: FFS.

The first person who contacted me was a woman. It must have been within the hour of posting the sale. She wanted to know if we did pre-sales. Cheeky.

I said I just didn’t have time, as there were too many moving and packing things to do this week. (I also didn’t feel like being haggled, which I’m positive is the form of torture awaiting me in Hell.)

Her reply: See you on Saturday! 10am? :o)

She’s definitely going to be out there at 9. Probably with one of those beer hats on—you know the hats that hold two beverages? But instead of beer it’ll be two energy drinks. It’ll be her yard sale hat.

The blood runs cold.

Though if I meet an alternate reality version of myself and my friends, that could be pretty cool. (source)

Though if I meet an alternate reality version of myself and my friends, that could be pretty cool. (source)

Aug 17 2016

Dispatch 002: The Future of Architecture in Oxford

One of the reasons I am excited to be moving to Oxford is the sheer beauty of the place.

The University was established in 1096, though the first college, St Edmund Hall was founded in 1226. It was constructed of the golden/yellow stone native to the area called Headington stone.

Many colleges that followed over the next 600 years would also be constructed of said stone.

Then the Victorians came along.

The Victorians had no intention of going anywhere. They were going to conquer the world (and never lose control of it, obvs) and it was time to shake things up, architecturally. They had a new type of building material—brick—and they were going to construct the newest college, Keble, out of the stuff. 1870 was a happening time, man.

Everyone thought it was hideous.

Now, of course, we think it’s beautiful. It’s certainly distinctive.

Keble panorama (click to enlarge)

Keble panorama (click to enlarge)

The dining hall at Keble is the largest at the University and was the original choice for the Great Hall at Hogwarts. Keble turned them down (it went to Christ Church) and now they regret it, as it’s a huge tourist draw.

Nice one.

Here are photos K took whilst staying there during his in-person interview. Behold, what the Great Hall was supposed to look like.

Keble Dining Hall

My husband ate in this room and he had cereal. CEREAL.


Keble Dining Hall 02

You can just see Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman up there, can’t you? Way to go, KEBLE.


Zooming forward now, I sent the beloved to The Eagle and Child and The Lamb and Flag, as they were both haunts of the Inklings, a literary group that included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and many others.

He took this rather lovely photo:

It sort of looks like an exterior shot for a League of Gentlemen sketch, but it's still lovely... right?

It sort of looks like an exterior shot for a League of Gentlemen sketch, but it’s still lovely… right?

Then he tells me that just to the left of this was some sort of concrete monstrosity from the 60s or 70s (when concrete would have been the wave of the future) actually coming over the wall. (I couldn’t figure out what building it would be from Google.)

No. Why. Ugh.

Did someone say in some meeting somewhere, ‘Well, look what people thought about Keble and the bricks? This will be the same! You think it’s hideous now, but in a few decades everyone will love it!’

Did that happen? If so, as soon as time machines are available, find that meeting and slap that person.

Still, colleges expand and new buildings are constructed and the newest favorite building material is… *drumroll* … glass.

Which works in its own way.

First K showed me this one:

Yes, but school of *what* government? Human government or...?

Yes, but school of *what* government? Human government or…?

Which I thought looked like a spaceship and he said looked like the revolving restaurant at the top of a skyscraper. (It’s the Blavatkin School of Government.)

Then there’s this one:

Is that not the *worst* Photoshop job you've ever seen? (click to enlarge)

Is that not the *worst* Photoshop job you’ve ever seen? (click to enlarge)

Which looks like the worst composite shot from Dr Who, ever. There’s been a rift in the space-time continuum and Victorian England has meshed with 22 century England but neither can see the other or something.

The trees are clearly there to mask the break in the photo…

If I didn’t trust my husband implicitly I wouldn’t think this is a real picture—it’s so incongruous. But Keble is on the left and the glass building is an extension of the college—it’s a sunken bar.

At the moment the glass buildings look fine to me, though I do wonder what future generations will think.

Will they, heaven forfend, find concrete to be classic?

Though of all the bizarre design decision in our soon-to-be home, the one I find most baffling is this:

The door on the left is attached to the wall. They're in the student dorms. Why?

The door on the left is attached to the wall. They’re in the student dorms. Why?

Aug 09 2016

Dispatch 001: Panic, Planning and Palpitations

‘You’re an Anglophile.’

I was sixteen and had met (for the first time) someone who was interested in the same sorts of books and television shows I was.

He was in his early forties, quietly fabulous, and had a small painting of the Queen in his very well-appointed, Victorian style house.

After seeing his books and vast collection of videos—it was twenty something years ago—I was happy to have someone to chat to about our shared interests.

And that was when I learned there was a name for people like me.

His name was Jeffrey and he went to Britain once or twice a year and rented Landmark cottages (once a castle!) and generally luxuriated in his Anglophilia.

Well, having a name for it, I dove straight in. Though I was a clever child I wasn’t particularly bright—I hadn’t, somehow—put together that all of the books, films, music and television shows I liked were made and set in the same relatively small geographic area.

Once that information was set in front of me I knew what to look for when choosing media and went for it. My interior world became English overnight. I went about methodically learning English spelling and words and phrases (there are 3,000 different usages between American and English).

Eventually, in my early twenties, I would begin writing my first novel, which would be set at Oxford University. It would teach me how to write a novel by turning into a 2,400 page delight of over 580,000 words. (It got through two edits before I found a plot difficulty that was insurmountable, but that’s a story for another time.)

The point is, while writing that … thing I made my first trip to England to do research. Oxford was my home base, with side trips to other cities.

Oxford was incredible. I fell in love with the city. My trip was in November—hardly tourist season—and I’d gone out one Sunday morning with a plan to go to the London Zoo. The trains weren’t running on Sunday so I decided to take some photos of Oxford, then. It was a bit drizzly so I had the place to myself. The photos I took are fairly empty of people, which was rather lovely and not the sort of mementos most people bring back from their trips.

Pictured: Bridge of Sighs. Not pictured: Other people.

Pictured: Bridge of Sighs. Not pictured: People.

While there I met up with a man in Hereford I’d been chatting with online for a year. He was very tall and goofy. We went to Hay-on-Wye for a day and had a great time. But I was a lesbian so I was busy telling myself we were just good friends.

I returned home to the States and would occasionally see a street on a British show that would make me ache with longing to return to the U.K. I missed it so badly.

This post is going on a bit long so I’m going to skip the intervening twelve years.

The very tall and goofy guy (his name is Karl) and I have been married ten years this last May. He’s got a job at Oxford University and should be starting in October. We’ve begun the panicking and the planning and the heart palpitations.

[This is the first in a series of posts called Dispatches from the V & K, which will chronicle the madness and merriment of moving overseas and settling into a new country and culture.]

Dec 31 2015

Writing from December 2015

Seriously. We've had the a/c on. I've taken to pretending I live in Australia. (source)

Seriously. We’ve had the a/c on. I’ve taken to pretending I live in Australia. (source)


For the Greater Wilmington Business Journal I wrote a piece about Renewable Recreation, a company that aims to help gyms shrink their carbon footprint.

Book Review
Christopher J. Yates’ debut Black Chalk was a compelling mystery that would appeal to fans of The Secret History. I highly enjoyed it.

Film Review

Limitless was a science fiction thriller film that was the inspiration for a television show this year. It was incredible.


2015 has been a great year and several opportunities have become available to me that I could never have foreseen or imagined even a year ago. I’ll still be writing for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal and WILMA, but it’s unlikely I’ll be writing book or film reviews with any regularity and so will do writing round ups only when I have enough pieces to warrant one.

Here’s to an excellent and even more productive 2016!

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