Month: September 2009

09.30.09 tradition

Following a long and illustrious family tradition, my youngest has elected to drop out of school.

This is very exciting; my offspring are … lively.

I had expected my son to spend a week or several meandering around before we started any sort of ambitious educational schedule.

Instead, he negotiated a multi-faceted curriculum including writing, reading, languages, music, physics, biology, and maths.

To the extent that he has managed to finish an entire year of advanced algebra work…. in three days. While blazing his way through a couple of tomes of classic literature. Interspersed with his habitual allotment of P. G. Wodehouse, obviously.

He says that he feels happier and more fulfilled now that he is able to do proper work.

I shouldn’t be surprised; my offspring are excessively difficult and eccentric and twitchy, but they do have some mad skills.


If you were enrolled at the Bee Lavender Academy of Etiquette, lessons of the day would include letter writing, filmmaking, and David Copperfield.


9.28.09 confusing

I’ve made a habit of living in towns only while the library is closed for renovation, and this place is no different.

So I suspected it was an urban myth but no! The Cambridge Central Library is really and truly open… for the first time in years!

Summary: the new facility is bigger, uglier, more confusing, and features a cafe implausibly selling wine.

Though it is definitely open, and that is better than closed.


9.30.09 visiting

Natalia is visiting! Jealous, Seattle?


9.27.09 regardless

While thinking about the old neighborhood (and new Buy Olympia store) it struck me that wherever I travel, my book is always stocked, but never included in the ‘local writer’ section…. regardless of the city. Even in the locations described in the text.

It would appear to be official – no town or region presumes or pretends to claim me.


9.26.09 buy

When I moved to Portland, the neighborhood (like my house) was boarded and derelict…. now look! The streets are clogged with boutiques and cafes!

Oh, how I miss the NW. But anyway: go here when it opens. Buy lots of stuff:



9.25.09 lurking

I spent the morning lurking around Kings Cross waiting to be interviewed for a documentary about health care reform. Glamorous? Not.

Though I discovered once again that I have no problem disclosing all of my darkest secrets for the entertainment of a national broadcast audience.

While giggling maniacally.

Of course you knew that, but it always surprises me.


9.24.09 search

Finalizing my punishing quest in search of good coffee and it is official: Savino’s has the best in Cambridgeshire, AND they play Jens Lekman mixed with wacky eurorap before 10am, AND old men steal my copy of the Daily Mail when I’m not looking.

Too perfect.


9.21.09 exist

Ten days worth of strike-delayed letters, packages, and newspapers showed up all in a rush…. including presents from Sara K in Portland! Mmm, Stumptown coffee.

There was also a package from my mother with marvels including a valid driving license!

I officially exist again.

Sort of.

Because of course, the bounty did not include a passport.

Tick, tock.

9.20.09 jolly

Yesterday I watched archive films of seaside holidays in the afternoon, then attended a Spike Milligan play in the evening.

Tonight I hung out on the bridge, watching silent movies and listening to live music. I heart the film festival!

Jolly good, what?


9.17.09 pain

Passport renewal + postal strike = pain! I’ve never crossed a picket line but my identification is gonna have to…. or at least, I hope it manages to return soon.


9.16.09 licking

Reading a design magazine, I was shocked to see a European hipster wearing a Huskies hoodie.

Um, in a word: no.

For those not initiated, I’m talking about the mascot and logo of the University of Washington sports teams. To be more specific, a really ugly one, involving the loathed color purple.

Later on Midsummer Common I discovered that it is difficult to unlock your bicycle when a cow is licking it.

9.15.09 nowhere

This morning I was forced by circumstance to Ladychat at the health food store before 10am! Is nowhere safe??

Worse yet, I also talked on the telephone. Oh, the horror!

And I was confirming a radio interview. I sound like a demented ten year old on the radio!


9.14.09 like

Away to London with my darling daughter, where we took afternoon tea at Selfridges and discussed her marvelous plans for the future.

We also managed to get trapped in a cupcake commercial! Why do these things always happen to me?


9.13.09 like

I finally found semi-acceptable new spectacles (shock!), but the store won’t make em without a recent exam (drat!).

I don’t LIKE my real prescription! It gives me headaches. I did the math, and it would be cheaper (and easier) to fly to NYC for new spectacles. Though that is impossible without a passport.


In other local news, it is conker season!

Will this be my last in Cambridge, the UK, Europe? I have no idea.


9.12.09 cautious

A looming postal strike serves to underscore a series of raw yet subtle questions that have only become obvious since I achieved indefinite leave to remain.

In the most cautious way possible, I am asking ‘do I feel safe now’ and ‘where do I belong.’

Both of these were irrelevant until I had the right to stay in the UK. I’m still ostensibly just a guest worker, a glorified visitor with benefits, but the new status does confer nominal permanence.

Finally, at long last, I have the right to live in a country committed to basic social equality.

No matter what criticisms my British friends might have of their homeland, I do love this country. I am thoroughly enamored to the extent I am not just willing but thrilled to pay massive taxes to support the NHS, and social housing, and state education.

The question becomes: does the UK want me? I’m not so sure.


9.11.09 distract

To distract myself from the insidious oozing worry of waiting for a new passport I have been poking around various social networking sites. They definitely offer some amusing interludes, though I suspect the main purpose of Facebook is to connect me to people who never missed me anyway. If they were being, hmm, what is the word? Honest.

While that might sound cruel, think about it – I am certainly not hard to find. My internet slug trail is long, wide, and gooey.

And this is not a recent anomaly – I have friendships extending back decades before social networking sites made everyone feel as though they are one click away from intimacy. I keep track of people, stories, files, ephemera.

In fact, I remain amazed at how many people I still know from compulsory alphabetical seating in junior high.

9.10.09 proof

This afternoon I signed, dated, and mailed my stateside passport renewal application. Including original documents, not least the visa and indefinite leave to remain certificate.

For the next little while I’m a foreign national dwelling in the UK with no identification or proof of residency.


Then I spent two hours shopping for, and six hours making, food I could buy in approximately two minutes down the street from my Seattle house.


9.9.09 divinity

The infestation of tourists has finally abated for the season, and the difference out there is amazing…. I hardly ever feel an overwhelming urge to smack divinity grad students.


9.8.09 lodgings

Marisa reports the taxidermy collection, funeral house telephone, and precious recordings of the Leavenworth Marlin Handbell Choir (along with the rest of the record collection) have found excellent temporary lodgings.


9.7.09 bulletproof

Did you know it is possible to purchase bulletproof polo shirts at Harrod’s?

In the continuing Ladyfication experiment, I attempted to buy fancy soap at a fancy store for the first time in my whole life.

Though I was thwarted by capitalism (and allergies), thank goodness.


9.6.09 care

When Gabriel moved out of my Portland house I found a new foster home for the record collection and houseplants, though I forgot to arrange care for the taxidermy.

Why? Because apparently I have “issues.” Like wanting to move back to Portland.

Right now.

Seven years away and the feeling hasn’t dissipated. Too bad about that whole lack-of-equitable-health-care thing.

9.5.09 desire

I feel an urgent desire to scurry off to Paris.

Except I need to renew my passport. Poor me!

To sublimate a thwarted need for perpetual motion I am making chili con carne & corn bread while listening to Berlin.

It is like I’m back in 1982 all of a sudden.


9.4.09 observation

Observation: the worst part of having your picture in the newspaper? It becomes very clear who reads newspapers.

I am sufficiently exasperated by Cambridge that I no longer wish to enumerate the reasons. However, I would like to offer a tip to locals: if you have been rude, or dismissive, or ignored me every day for, hmm, five years…. I noticed. Whether your attitude derived from the fact that I am tattered, tattooed, and/or not affiliated with the university, know what? I’m not offended; I don’t care.

I simply do not want to know you. To be precise and succinct: you are not interesting.


9.3.09 first

First day of school, and first day cold enough to build a fire: autumn has arrived!


9.1.09 ruffians

Good thing I like teenage ruffians ’cause they always love me.

This week, at least, I’m talking about cygnets. Obviously.