Thursday, December 31, 2009

Posh Giraffe, Harold, and plans for 2010

The posh giraffe triptych is finally up in the Etsy shop, and I think it's my best yet:

And here are a couple of pictures of Harold, my first attempt at a crochet plushie:

I just found out that I have a job interview next week, so I'm pretty excited. It's a call center for the NHS, and is fairly nearby. I'm really hoping I get it, if only to feel as if I'm pulling my own weight around here.

I'm working on some ideas for new paintings, as well as something that for now I will just refer to as "Project Twee." More information about that will come in a later post.

2009 has been a long difficult year, from being in a long distance relationship, to getting married, quitting my job and moving to England to be with my husband, going through culture shock and depression, dealing with being unemployed and feeling unemployable, and catching flu after cold after flu. It was a year of massive flux. I'm hoping 2010 will bring a bit more stability, and will be the year I really go for it as an artist.

If I was to make any New Years resolution, it would be to not let myself down or sell myself short. I've spent too much of the last 26 years doing that.

I hope you all have a lovely night, whether you celebrate through the night or have a quiet evening in and go to bed at ten. May the new year give you a fresh start, as I hope it will for me.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Just a quick update

Well, I don't have diabetes. (That's what my fasting blood test was for.) I do, however, still have the flu. And the other issues that prompted the glucose test. I'll be speaking to a doctor again on Thursday to try to figure out what exactly is going on.

I have been doing some sketches and brainstorming for other paintings. I'm hoping I feel well enough to get some actual work done in the next day or two. 

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

I apologize for the lack of posting yesterday. After I had my fasting blood test in the morning the flu I had been developing decided to kick me while I was down. I was a little out of sorts. I'm feeling better now though. Pictures of the new triptych and Harold the bear are still coming, I promise. But for now, I'm going to enjoy watching Christmas telly with my husband. Have a great day, everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Twas the night before the night before Christmas

A few things have happened lately, so I thought I would share. First, I've finished both the posh giraffe triptych (finally) and my first attempt at a crocheted plushie (a bear I'm calling Harold). I'll put up pictures of them both here tomorrow, but you can see them on my twitter feed for now.

I went to see a doctor on Monday, and they're having me come in tomorrow for a blood test to see if I have diabetes. I'm a bit nervous about it, as my mom had it and I've kind of had my suspicions for a while. So we'll see how it goes. Hopefully I won't have to wait too long to find out.

In slightly more exciting news, Michael and I were playing 1 vs 100* on xbox live last night, and he got chosen to be the one! Not only that, he went on to knock all 100 members of the mob out and won the game... winning him 10,000 microsoft points and a £1500 holiday voucher! Which means that we'll have enough for our trip back to the States in the summer! What a crazy Christmas gift, eh?

That's all for now, but I'll be back tomorrow with our holiday card, and pics of the giraffe paintings and Harold the bear.

*1 vs 100 is based on a game show of the same name, in which the One goes up against a mob of 100 people in a trivia game. You get to stay in the game as long as you keep answering questions right. If a member of the mob gets the question wrong, they're knocked out. If the One gets one wrong, the game is over and a new One is chosen. The goal is for the One to knock out all 100 mob members. The more mob members that get knocked out, the higher the prize (and like other game shows, you do periodically have the chance to walk away with what you've won so far). In the xbox live version, the mechanics are basically the same, except that besides the One and the mob, there is also the crowd who are playing along, but not for points.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Local farmer's market, Christmas shopping, and feeling dreadful

On Friday, the last day of term, Michael got an unexpected snow day. We went down to the local farmer's market (which was scaled back a bit due to the snow). It was a bit of a treat! We bought fresh eggs, three different types of sausage (some which we had for dinner that night with some mash), two types of cheese (some with black pepper and some with mustard, which will go great with some sausages), Christmas chutney (I've never had chutney before), an elderberry and sloe drink that's like a squash (for the Americans: you dilute a bit in water to drink it), as well as some honey fudge that was lovely. I can't wait to see what they have next month!

We both started feeling a bit ill on that night, but went down to the pub with Michael's coworkers anyway. We had an okay time, but ended up ducking out after just a few drinks. The next day, we didn't feel much better. Michael was feeling especially rough. But we somehow insanely braved the crowds in town to pick up our Christmas presents for each other. Not really a surprising Christmas this year, as I didn't have my own money to spend since I'm still working on getting the shop off of the ground. In fact, all my presents from Michael (per my request) were art supplies to make more stuff for the shop! But keeping busy with that the past few weeks has really made me happy.

That night, though, I experienced the worst bout of insomnia I've had since I've been here. I was up until about 6:30 in the morning. I ended up watching the Hollyoaks Omnibus just because it was on. I used to be on medication for it before I came over, but my doctor here wanted to get me off of it. And I wanted that too... so I decided to try Nytol (as it's herbal) and chamomile tea and the like. None of it works. I have an appointment with a doctor tomorrow anyway (for other ongoing problems), so I'm planning to bring it up and see if I can get something so that I can avoid nights like last night.

Today we were both still feeling terrible. I made Michael go back to bed for a bit, since he was sleepy and needed it. As for me... well, once I'm up, I'm up. I don't nap unless I'm seriously ill, and this flu thing isn't that bad at the moment. I wish I could say I'd gotten some work done, but mostly it's just been TV and a little bit of gaming. I feel like a bit of a failure in that regard, but oh well.

Tomorrow will be more productive, if just out of necessity. I have the aforementioned doctor appointment, I need to run down to the post office to sign for a package (and get a Thank You card for my aunt who sent us a big box of food from back home), as well as finally get some painting done. I need to start pushing myself a bit more, and making myself work even when I feel like crap.

Time for bed soon, as it's a little after midnight. Here's hoping I'll be able to fall asleep and not end up back here on the couch in a couple hours...

Thursday, December 17, 2009


This morning, I saw snow falling for the first time in years. Every other time I've actually seen snow fall, I've been in a car, and it was hard to see. So watching it fall outside my living room window this morning (even though it was just a small flurry), was a wee bit magical. Growing up in the central valley of California and then moving to San Diego, I really didn't get the chance to experience snow all that much. Snow was something you visited, after it was already on the ground.

So yes, I was very excited today. And I found out that it does look just like it does in the movies. I always wondered about that. A bit silly, really, but there you go.

I've finished the ghosty trio, and it's up in the Etsy shop.

I've got the initial sketching done for a posh giraffe triptych, and I'm really looking forward to painting it. I've also found out about Amigurumi, which are little crocheted stuffed toys! I have some extra yarn, and I know how to crochet a bit more than I know how to knit (not to mention the fact that I've crocheted in a spiral several times before), so I'm going to give it a go.

I've just about finished our Christmas/Holiday e-card for friends and family. Instead of drawing something, I took a photo of the lights stung up on the High street. I'll be sure to post it here when it gets closer to Christmas day.

Speaking of Christmas, I got to play the middleman in a Secret Santa delivery thanks to a purchase from my store... which was awesome. It completely made my day, and made it actually feel like Christmas. I love wrapping things and helping spread a bit of cheer. Makes me feel all warm inside.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Projects and other things

I was able to start knitting again recently, which makes me happy. I couldn't for a while because I had tennis elbow. I'm still just learning, but I'm doing surprisingly well! I'm making a scarf just to practice doing different types of stitches. Next I want to try my hand at making little knitted stuffed toys.

I'm working on a ghosty painting trio now, and this will be my first attempt at embroidery on paper... I really hope it goes well, because I think it could look awesome! I'll post pictures when I'm done.

I also put up a new painting trio on Etsy... mermaids! Check it out at the shop.

I'm actually really jazzed about doing some work. It's still not perfect, but I know it'll get a bit better once I get enough stuff in the shop to legitimize spending some money on advertising. And once we move next month, I'll have a lot more space to work in. Things are looking up!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Two new products in the Esty shop: trios of mini paintings!

Today I've put up two sets of three mini paintings in my Etsy shop. One set is hairy monsters, and the other is robots. Check out the listings here!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Teeny paintings and old photographs from Ken's

I'd been eyeing some tiny frames at the pound shop for a while now. Yesterday I say they were on sale, buy one get two free! Bargain! So I picked up a load of them. I'm going to make some little paintings to go in them and put them up in the shop. Michael had the great idea of doing them in sets of three, so I think I'm going to do that with most of them. I'm just sketching loads now, to decide what to put in them. One will probably be a set of robots, another will be ghosty things, and another will be hairy monsters.

I still want to nab some sweaters at charity shops and recycle them into weird little plushies. And since Valentine's is the next big holiday after Christmas, I think after I finish with these mini paintings I'll work on sets of handmade valentines.

I finally made it into a shop called Ken's today, which specializes in vintage magazines, newspapers, printed ephemera and the like. Ever since I saw it, it reminded me of a shop I used to love in San Diego called Paper Antiques. I could have blown so much money at Paper Antiques, mainly on the massive selection of abandoned family photos. One that I've bought, which I like to call Scary Baby*, is proudly hung on our wall. The rest are still packed away for the time being.

Ken's though, seems to have less of a selection of the photos I look for. I did find a box of photos that were doubled up on cards; I forget what they were called, but it's two nearly identical photos side by side. There weren't many with people in them, but I ended up buying two in the end. One of a bustling Victorian street scene that looked a bit dark and creepy because of the lighting, and another of a man standing next to a fountain looking suspiciously like he'd just pissed in it or was thinking about it. That's probably not what really happened, but that's what sprang to mind. It made me laugh.

I will be going back to Ken's for sure. There's a lot there I could use for various projects, and it's a lot of fun just to look around! It's a treasure trove.

*Scary Baby is so called because it is a rather old photograph on card, and it's got the black and white equivalent of red eye... which makes it appear as if the baby has evil, possessed looking eyes. I don't know what draws me to things like that, other than the fact that my brain seems to come up with interesting stories about them.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Things I Heart at the moment: Channel 4 and Kirstie's Homemade Home Series

I watched the first series of Kirstie's Homemade Home (with Kirstie Allsopp) a few weeks ago on Channel 4 on demand. I'd seen her before on Location, Location, Location (and oddly enough Relocation, Relocation, Relocation), and she had such an great personality that I decided to check out the Homemade series. I was not disappointed.

In the first series, Kirstie documents putting together her new house in Devon with handmade and recycled items. Over the course of the six episodes, she learns a bit about how to throw pottery, blow glass, knit, quilt, make candles, make stained glass, screenprint wallpaper, among other things. She also shares tips about looking for older items in local markets (and even skips - dumpsters, to the Americans reading this) and how to brighten them up.

I practically went out straight away and got some yarn and taught myself how to knit using various websites and a book I found at the local library.

This week, Channel 4 is airing the second series: Kirstie's Homemade Christmas. Again, I find myself completely inspired! I missed the first episode that aired last night (I'll watch on 4oD later), but tonight's episode included making soap, teddy bears, boxing day chutney, stockings, and again a trip to a local market for old treasures to make new.

I have about a million ideas for new products for my Etsy store. Thank you, Kirstie, for being so awesome!

If you want to check out the series for yourself (and live in the UK, sorry to those in the States!) Go here to watch both series: Kirstie's Homemade Home

Coloring Pages

Here are the Christmas/holiday coloring pages I drew for Michael's third year class.
They're just quick doodles I made with my tablet, but I think they're pretty cute!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Etsy shop is LIVE!

Granted, I've just got a few of prints up at the moment, but I'll be adding new items over the coming weeks.

Check it out here!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nearly two months later...

I'm still alive. It's been a rough couple of months for me, and that's the main reason I didn't post anything at first. And then It had just been so long that it felt awkward. But fuck it, I still want to do this, and I've managed to (mostly) pull myself out of the major depressive funk I was in.

It was a lot harder than I thought it would be to get used to living in a new country. It still is, actually. Just because our language is (mostly) similar, doesn't mean our cultures are. I'm beginning to feel a lot more comfortable and at home here, though.

It was a bit strange celebrating Thanksgiving when (practically) no one else was. We did have turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and rolls. I also made a couple of pumpkin pies, one for us and one for Michael to take into work. It was a big hit! Many people (including Michael) had never even tried it before.

I'm still unemployed, but I recently received my National Insurance Number (the equivalent of a Social Security Number in the States) in the mail and that should help a lot. Thankfully, I was able to do a couple of commission pieces for a friend of ours for some extra money. I'll post them up after Christmas passes, as they're gifts and I don't want any chance of spoiling the surprise.

I've also got an Etsy storefront set up, so in the next day or two I'll list the prints I have leftover from last year's Alternative Press Expo. I also want to put up some original artwork, commissions, and other handmade goodies; maybe even some baked goods*. Hopefully that will help out a bit. I want to treat that as my full time job for now. I'll be sure to throw the link up when I've put up those listings.

I also want this blog to be part of that job. Instead of just focusing on being an American in the UK, I also want to post artwork and other unrelated things. More of a catch-all. So the name has been changed from Yankee Stephoodle to Oodles by Stephoodle**.

That's all for now, I suppose. Tomorrow I've got to get those commissions printed up, or at least sent to the printers to be picked up on Tuesday. I also need to run to the library, because one of my books is overdue (oops). If I get a chance, I'll post the wintry coloring pages I drew for Michael's third year class.

*I WILL make maple bacon fudge, so help me. And if it's good, I will sell it occasionally.
**Which also happens to be the name of my Etsy store. :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's been one week

I've been in the UK for a little over a week now. I'm not sure why I waited this long to put a post up here.

It's been a bit of a tough week. I've felt overwhelmed. I didn't think I'd have such a hard time with everything, but I have. There's just so much that's different. And mainly it's the little things that have gotten to me over the week:

- Still getting used to the money; I'm not sure what expensive is anymore, and I'm still getting used to the change. I'm trying not to constantly convert pounds to dollars in my head.

- I haven't found brown sugar yet. "Brown sugar" here is the stuff like Sugar in the Raw in the States; it's unrefined natural sugar. Michael thinks US brown sugar IS available here, though, so we'll check when we make a trip into town (Milton Keynes) sometime.

- The roads are smaller, and the buildings (for the most part) are all butted up against each other, which in comparison to sprawling San Diego can feel a bit claustrophobic at times.

- This may be a bit odd, but it's a little disconcerting to not be surrounded by Hispanic people and a constant flurry of Spanish after being in the thick of it for a good chunk of my life.

There are a few more things, but really they'll all just take getting used to. I do love it here, despite my whinging and homesickness.

Michael and I did have a couple of fun nights out last week. Thursday was a games night, and I played a lot of board games I'd never played before. It reminded me a bit of when Greg (a roommate from years past) was a game reviewer and roped all the housemates into playing random games.

Friday was a twofer. We first headed into town to see The Rocky Horror Show with a few of his friends. I'd never seen the stage show before, and it was excellent. Steve Pemberton of League of Gentlemen fame was fabulous as the narrator. After the show, we headed back home to Newport Pagnell to meet a bunch of Michael's coworkers in the pub. Well, two pubs. The first one closed after our first drink because the till was broken. It was a lot of fun.

On Saturday I got to experience X-Factor live for the first time. I was never a habitual viewer of American Idol back home, but it's kind of fascinating how X-Factor is such a nationwide phenomenon over here. But then again, there seems to be a bit of a pop obsession over here, more so than in the States. That said, I'm hooked and am looking forward to the show next weekend.

My plan this week is to get out of the flat more, and go on more walks. I'd also like to take some pictures of Newport Pagnell and post them up here.

But for now, there are a few more dishes waiting to be washed. So I'm off for now!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Quick Update

I bought my plane ticket, and have a ride to LAX. And I don't have to switch planes! It's just a straight shot to Heathrow from Los Angeles. I leave this Saturday... so just under a week!

I'm starting to get really ruthless with my packing and sorting. My room looks like a disaster area, but I know I'm getting close to being done. I've got two more boxes to ship next week (four have already been sent), and just a few more things to pick up before I leave (like a box of Count Chocula... because it's not Halloween without the Count).

I'm both excited and terrified. I know I'll be fine once I get on that plane, though, and even better once I arrive at my new home.

Thanks for all the congrats and the well wishes!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Visa approved! Yay!

I got notice on Monday around noon that my visa had been approved. It was like a giant weight had been lifted off my shoulders! The package with my documents should get here tomorrow, and then I can buy my plane ticket. I'll be leaving on the 3rd of October. So just over a week!

I immediately launched into work mode, and thus forgot to update my blog with the good news. I've already got one bag packed, two boxes of books mailed off, and four more that just need labels and customs forms. I sold my dresser this morning, leaving me with only my mammoth printer that no one wants and a table to sell. I've got my iBook mostly set up (on hold now about reactivating my copy of Studio MX 2004 as I forgot to transfer the license for it... may give up soon and try again tomorrow; it's been about 45 minutes already).

There's still a lot more to be done, but I have the time to do it. And soon I'll be there and I can relax for a bit, as has been ordered by Michael. After a while I'll nab a part time job a few days a week to bring in some extra money for us (the rest of the time I'll be working on comics and art and writing again, which I'm excited about)... maybe at Borders or the other large bookstore I can never remember the name of, if they'll hire me. I'd even be happy just stocking shelves or doing inventory. I find stuff like that to be a bit Zen.

That's all I have for now. My next entry probably won't be until just before I'm leaving, unless something exciting happens before then. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Starting to Pack (not so) Early, and other things

I've held off on posting because I thought I might find out about my visa a bit early. I hired an expediter after the fact to see if they could pull my application and resubmit it, thus shaving of some waiting time and reducing my growing stress levels. Sadly, the consulate had already opened my application and had begun processing it, so expediting was a no go. I will get some of my money back, and it's nice to know something's being done, but I'm currently at the mercy of the consulate and however long they take to process things. I should hear by sometime next week with any luck, and by the end of the month at the latest. So I'm going to be flying out a bit later than planned.

I have started packing. The vast majority of the clothing I'm taking is currently sealed in those vacuum space bag things to help save space. I'm still sorting through my art work and art supplies, and I'm going to pick up some flat rate boxes from the post office on Monday to send off a chunk of my books in.

I've been really stressed out lately. I've cried a LOT. I don't like not being in control of things, and the whole situation with my visa had me almost tearing my hair out. I've also been doing a lot of stress eating, and I swear I've gained at least seven pounds in the last few weeks. (Probably exaggerating a bit on the number, but I have gained weight.) And even though I'm joining a gym when I move over and I'm going to eat better and really make a stab at taking control of my body and my weight, I felt really terrible because I'd been eating loads of junk lately. It was partially because I thought I might be leaving really soon and didn't want to buy groceries I wasn't going to eat.

But now I know I'm not leaving for at least another week or so. I made the decision to pick up a bunch of veggies and fruit and such. And even the simple act of buying that stuff and knowing it's in the fridge makes me feel better. I'll still have some junk (need to get in one last California burrito before I go), but obviously in moderation.

This has, in part, been brought on by getting into the Biggest Loser again. I forgot how much that show inspires me to work hard and do better by myself. I just finished rewatching the first season of the Biggest Loser Australia on YouTube (found it last year when I couldn't find full episodes of the American one). It was a great season, and I totally recommend watching it if you're into that sort of thing*. My plan is to have a weight loss update post once a month, with progress and a photograph. But that comes later, after this moving business is over.

Today was my roommate's** birthday, so we went out and did things! And stuff! We went to IHOP with a former roommate/friend (not so healthy but very yummy... I recommend the Harvest Grain and Nut pancakes), and followed that up with seeing Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (which was so much better than I expected). Go see it if you're in the mood for light-hearted and slightly nerdy fun. We came back home for a bit and then rounded off the evening by seeing our roommate/friend's improv group perform, which is always awesome***. This was preceded by a quick duck into the UK Corner Shoppe (which is right next door) for some treats from my future home. (Really, I've been dying for a Violet Crumble for the last month or so, and I figured a Cadbury Crunchie would satisfy that craving.)

So a lot has been going on. I'll continue to sort and pack tomorrow (and maybe watch season two of Biggest Loser Australia, which I haven't seen before). Now that I'm over the disappointment of not getting my visa as soon as I'd hoped, I can really push to get everything done so that I'm ready to go when I can leave.

I'm not sure what my next post will be about, or when, but here's hoping the gist of it is: WOOOOOO! MY VISA GOT APPROVED! YAAAAAAAY!

*You can find the first part to the first episode here.
**She's the sister I never had. I'm going to miss the crap out of her.
***If you're in San Diego and you want a fun night, check out National Comedy Theater. They're always a blast.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


The next post will be about starting to pack... I have started, mind you, but just barely. Mostly it's still been sorting and listing things on CraigsList.

Towards the end of last week, I realized that if I wanted my visa in a reasonable amount of time, I was going to have to hire an expediter. If the consulate hasn't opened my package yet, they should be able to pick it up and resubmit it for me, shaving off many torturous days from my wait. I won't lie, it's been killing me. I've had more than a few panic attacks about the whole thing.

Because the British consulate in Los Angeles is closed for the next couple of days due to an IT upgrade, the expediter won't be able to request my documents until Wednesday (again, provided they haven't been opened already). If all goes according to plan, they'll resubmit on Thursday, I'll get approved same day, and I should have passport with visa in hand by Friday or Saturday (depending on when the post goes out).

On top of that, Tuesday is my last day at work. I'll be tying up all loose ends over the next couple of days. And then I can throw myself fully into packing and getting rid of stuff.

I'm crossing my fingers that everything works out, and that I'll be in England come two weeks time.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Interlude: I'm in the system! (and other things, too)

After a comedy of errors involving my husband having to ship back my passport because it was in the duffel bag of stuff I sent home with him, I finally had my biometrics (fingerprint scanning) appointment, and dropped my supporting documents off at FedEx to be sent to the British Consulate in Los Angeles. So yay for that!

It's been scorching this past week or so. My apartment has no air conditioning, so I've been relying on frequent cold showers, soaking shirts and bandanas in cold water, and two fans running constantly in my room. Which all only sort of work. I've also got a nasty sunburn from waiting for various busses and the trolley today. I'm not going to miss summers closer to the equator, that's for sure.

The heat has certainly been making it hard to find the motivation to do anything besides sit on my butt and poke around the internet while I try to cool off and not feel sick. But I have so much left to do before the move, and less than a month to do it in. My last day of work is just a week and a half away though, so that should help things some to. (Currently with my commute, I'm out of the house about 12 hours a day, which takes a lot out of me.)

One thing I HAVE accomplished this week is getting my laptop updated and sorted. I installed a new, much larger hard drive (which is no small task with an iBook G4... I ended up having to open it up about five times, but I got it working after some technological voodoo). I also put in a new keyboard (hooray for the O key not popping off randomly anymore), and put a pretty skin on it to cover up the scratches and dings from four years of near constant use.

This weekend is Labor Day weekend, so I have a paid holiday on Monday. That means I get a three day weekend in which to list and relist things on Craigslist (and maybe eBay), drop things off at the Salvation Army down the street, and start packing all my nonessential stuff.

I'm super excited and scared shitless at the same time! It's awesome! :D

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Notes from a Small Island - Book Review

I recently finished Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island, a travel log of his adventure to see as much of Great Britain as he can before moving back to the states after residing in England for over 20 years.

Bryson has an excellent way with words, capable of both exceptional humor and beauty as well. I laughed, many times (causing my husband to glance at me sideways more than once while I was reading on the train to and from our visit to my family up north). I found myself in awe of the descriptions of landmarks and landscapes. And it helps give me a sense of the country that I will soon be calling my home, even if it was written about 12 or 13 years ago.

When I arrive, I'll be living in Newport Pagnell, which is just outside of Milton Keynes. Bryson has no kind words for this city. I can't say I blame him. I saw for myself last April that it was basically a very large shopping mall (one of the biggest I've been in) surrounded by office buildings. It's a bit bleak. I have yet to experience the confusion he describes the underground walkways to be (the idea of underground walkways seems a bit weird to me anyway), but now I want to see if they're as crazy as he makes them out to be. I do like Newport Pagnell though, which starkly contrasts most of what San Diego is like and yet manages to vaguely resemble one of my favorite neighborhoods, albeit with more charm.

Bryson can at times be preachy (the preservation of old buildings comes to mind; he mentions it quite often*), and sometimes comes off as a bit... grumpy? I'm not sure that's the right word. I did find myself questioning his actions on a few occasions**, but I guess after being on a trip that long I would get a bit grumpy too. So ultimately those bits are easily overlooked.

All in all, it's a well written book that's easy to read and gave me some insight that might help me along the way. And I do want to read about his experiences back on American soil in I'm a Stranger Here Myself, as well as A Short History of Nearly Everything which has been consistently recommended to me (by many friends and by my psychobiology professor when I was still in college***).

*Which makes me want to pay attention to the buildings more when I'm back over there. I didn't really notice how out of place the plate glass windows are, but perhaps it's because I live in a western state. We have less history than the eastern part of the country, and have a tendency to tear down what old architechture we do happen to have, or add plate glass to it.

**Mainly giving the kid working at the McDonalds in Scotland flack for asking him if he wanted an apple turnover with his breakfast order... I wouldn't doubt the kid was mandated to say this to every customer.

***This was when I had delusions of double majoring in psychology during my 5th year at San Diego State. I later decided to just read some Oliver Sacks books and be done with it.

Next Entry: Starting to pack early

Saturday, August 22, 2009

How in the hell did I end up with all this stuff?

I am, to put it lightly, a pack rat. I get this from my late mother (though, thank goodness, not nearly on the same scale). So after nine years of collecting and hoarding, I have a boatload of stuff. And this is after several moves worth of whittling down that I've done. In short: you really never realize how much stuff you have until you have to move.

So this weekend's task is sorting and listing things for sale on Craigslist and eBay. I've got to tell you... it's really hard to see some of this stuff go! Sure, I won't miss my penguin-shaped humidifier that much, or my desk (which is already in pieces in the garage), but the artist/designer in me will definitely miss my printer (which can print large sizes) and my uber photo scanner. Alas, they cannot come with me because of the wiring differences in the UK. I may also have to sell a large painting that I created a few years back, and one (if not both) of my mannequins*.

The thing that seems to be daunting on me more than anything else though is the sheer amount of books that I own. The entire top shelf of my wall-length closet is full of them. I've already decided that I'm only taking a small portion of them with me, and the rest (after I make a list of the ones I may want to read again) will be either donated or sold... somehow. I haven't quite figured that out yet. At the very least, I'm going to have a garage sale in a week or two, and they can be sold there.

Proceeds from all these sales will help go toward replacing the hard drive and keyboard in my failing iBook, a couple of trunks to take my things over in, and my plane ticket. I actually found one for just under $500 for a one-way... with an eight hour layover in Reykjavík. It's a rather long time, but for the price I can't pass it up. I've also never been to Iceland (the only country besides my own that I've been to is England, since visiting Tijuana does not truly count as visiting Mexico), so I'm viewing it as a sort of treat, even though I'll be exhausted. But I'm going off on a bit of a tangent here.

The truth is, it's hard to get rid of your belongings. My original plan was to start taking care of all this months ago, little by little. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. The idea of the move was just so overwhelming. It still is, but now that I have a real deadline it feels more real and grounded.

Even after I've sold and given away everything else, I've still got what's left of my clothes, a laptop, a bunch of my artwork, as much of my art supplies as I can fit, and all my little bits and bobs (as Michael would put it) to squeeze into two trunks I've yet to purchase and a suitcase. My mind still boggles a bit at that. But it must and will be done.

*Yes. Mannequins. Two. I like them because they're a bit creepy, and I was using them in art pieces in college. The tall one is going to go, and I won't much miss her, but I'm hoping to be able to bring over my kneeling child mannequin. She's a nice conversation piece.

Next Entry: Notes from a Small Island - Book Review

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Begin again at the beginning.

This past Monday, while I was on the long train ride* back home from visiting family and friends, I realized that my move to England had officially started. The end of that trip signified the real beginning of the process for me, even though it had been planned for months and Michael and I got married back on July 27th.

At any rate, my time in San Diego is going to come to an end sooner than I know it. And there's still so much left to do! I've got to replace some parts in my old iBook, sell and donate and chuck ungodly amounts of stuff that I've accumulated over the last nine years or so, get my supporting documents for my visa sent off to the UK consulate in Los Angeles, get some final medical appointments taken care of, get a plane ticket, pack my life into a few bags and trunks, and finally make my way across the pond.

It all seems a bit daunting with only five weeks to go!

I've started this blog/travel log to write about my experiences of moving to and living in a new country, and partially because I wanted to get more in the habit of writing. And maybe someone else down the line will read this as they are scouring the internet for other stories of expatriation before the embark on a journey of their own**.

First entries always feel a bit formal and awkward to me, so I promise to be a bit more interesting next time. ;)

*Well, train then bus then train. It's a long way from Stockton to San Diego!

**This spot is reserved for a shout out to UK Yankee, whose forum especially has been so immensely helpful through everything thus far, and (I'm sure) will continue to be so. You can find them at

Next Entry: How in the hell did I end up with all this stuff?