Friday, January 24, 2014

Answers That Aren't 42 And Also A Thing About My Birthday

MIXED NEWS, EVERYONE! I have finished and turned in both of my papers (yay!) which I am pretty sure are both complete garbage (boo). But I'm back for now and I'm going to write some blog posts, starting with answering the questions you guys left for me in the comments:

exoticchemist said...

I'm curious as to what exactly triggers you to feel homesick. Is it just randomly wishing you were back in the US? Missing family and friends? Or is it specifically the differences between the US and UK? Maybe this is a dumb question...

It's not a dumb question, but it is a hard one to articulate. For one thing, I am now having a completely different cultural experience from the rest of my countrymen. While I don't miss snow (AT ALL), and I certainly don't want to be living in temperatures that can kill you in minutes, the whole polar vortex episode was hard on me because I felt...I don't know, left out. I still like to imagine that I am from Chicago and Chicago is my home and everyone at home was having this shitty but nevertheless collective experience and I wasn't there. And what made it worse was the UK was having a different collective experience with seriously damaging flooding seemingly everywhere, which is the experience I had, but it was the wrong one. And by the way, I'm crying right now. Sure I miss my family and my friends, but I can talk to them because the internet is magic. What I can't do is go back in time to when everyone was at the terrifying weather party and show up this time and be in on the jokes and know the stories.

Maya's comment was spot fucking on, and I really just wanted to post it and write "THIS ------>" next to it, but I'll elaborate instead. Maya said this: " I think, for me anyway, it was the fact that most things in the UK are so similar to North America that the differences, even the little ones, felt like a personal affront." I would say especially the little ones; the kind of things you never notice until they are different. In America, almost invariably, when you go inside a public building you just walk into it without breaking stride because the door is going to shut behind you. But in England where many of the buildings are older than my country, you walk into the building and you have to remember to shut the door behind you or it will just swing in the wind until the person at the desk gets up and closes it while glaring at you. There are no screens in the windows because there aren't that many bugs; you go shopping several times a week because the bread and the vegetables haven't been engineered to last for 2 months; the toilet doesn't flush the same way. I cannot fucking find wax paper at the store - grease proof baking paper is the closest thing. I know these things all sound dumb and petty because they are, but they add up into this sick feeling that this is not your home, no matter how much you want it to be.

Ok, that was sad. Let's do a different one:

Anonymous said...

44 degrees celcius here in Australia today, nature is bi-polar (and yeah that whole global warming thing). my question - did you ever choose a stripper name? or did I miss the big reveal in one of your posts?

Well anonymous, I'm pretty sure all of North America hates you right now, despite the fact that if it were 44 degrees there (111 F) they would be complaining that it was too hot. I did choose a stripper name and I did write a (half-assed) post about it. For the show I went with Phoebe Moon because I am a nerd. Now that I am in the UK however, I'll be using Poppy Cox because it's better and people get that joke here.

S said...

What have you learned about Brits/Britain by living here that you didn't learn by visiting?

Many many things, actually. I've learned that the words "noodle" and "pasta" are in no way interchangeable. In related news, I've learned that I'll need to bring a shit ton of Ramen back with me when I visit the states because the equivalents here are yucky in comparison. I've learned that people will fall over laughing if you pronounce squirrel as "skwerl". I've learned that driving students aren't allowed on the motorway, which means that when people get their first driving license, they have not learned to drive on one, which seems kind of dumb. Just last week I learned that when I say "look at those cans" no one realizes I'm talking about boobs. I've learned what stollen is, and that I hate it (raisins. why must everybody ruin perfectly good bakery with raisins? Knock it off already). I've learned that Christmas tree skirts aren't a thing here. I've learned that StereoNinja can't say prosciutto correctly. One thing that I already knew, but can't seem to get used to is being greeted with the phrase "You all right?". The American equivalent would be "How are you?". "You all right?" is what you would ask if someone just fell down the stairs or slipped on some black ice and landed on their head or just was walking around looking all sad. So whenever I'm asked that I immediately am confused about why they think I might not be all right. Gets me every time.

Thank you all for your questions. I like answering questions, so send more if you like and ask about whatever you want: stuff about me or why do Americans do that weird thing or where can I buy dildos or what is it about Patrick Stewart that makes him so sexy or Chris Christie, seriously, wtf is with that guy - whatever you want.

I'm not going to do a birthday wrap up post because it was overshadowed by paper writing and homesickness, but I did want to mention that StereoNinja bought me a telescope. HE BOUGHT ME A TELESCOPE. A FUCKING TELESCOPE. This feeling that I'm feeling is I think what it would be like for a normal person if their partner bought them a surprise Ferrari or a diamond as big as their hand. I HAVE A TELESCOPE YOU GUYS, and I live somewhere that I can actually use it. If it ever stops being shitty weather, that is.

12 comments:

simone said...

you all right? :)

so yeah. being in the UK for just 12 days, i can say we felt many of those feelings. things are as close as the same as they can get, but just enough different that it's... confusing and almost disappointing. for instance, i bought the kids a box of 'fruit loops' to eat while there, thinking something familiar. the box? identical to ours. then i poured out the fruit loops that were colo(u)red brownish, orangish, and yellowish. ahh -- no food colo(u)ring or artificial flavo(u)ring. yes, of course. fail.

i imagined that if we stayed longer, these would become the new norm (and we'd also be waaay healthier) and i'd be perfectly ok with that. i imagine the same will be for you.

love you!!

caroline_mackenzie said...

If you wait long enough when you go back to the US you'll probably find yourself homesick for the UK. But you will always, ALWAYS, miss the food you grew up with.

Angela said...

How else would you pronounce squirrel?

Anonymous said...

You are so right about the homesickness thing, that is exactly how it is for me. I'm not that far from home, being still in the same country, but as it Canada and Canada is a big country, it's like I am in another country.

And it's weird too, because it goes both ways. I was visiting home for Christmas (-40C weather? I can complain about it with my family!) but then I missed the ice storm at my new home. ("Where were you when the ice storm hit? Did you have power?" "Uh, I think so. My room mates said we did, I was out west.")

It's odd, and something I've never been able to express.

I always enjoy reading your post!

amberance said...

Apparently that word is two syllables. SKWIR-ehl. Or something. Seems like a lot of work to me. Skwerl. SKWERL!

Crystal Daze said...

should you ever get off the island the only place to get good chinese anythiing is china town ldn. if not, maybe one of the stores ship? i love the chinese supermaket behind prince charles theater. i live for theor udon and vegie dumplings. win everytime.

emptystress said...

Thank you for answering my question! I've always been curious. I can understand how that could definitely be stressful. It'd be like learning a whole different culture only with the added confusion of thinking you know it already making it all the more jarring when things don't function the way you think they're supposed to.

On a happier note though, I will be in London for the first time ever in the spring! What would you suggest are the 'don't miss' things to see? Also, I rented an apt on the Thames rather than a tourist friendly hotel, so I'm a bit worried you mentioned the toilets flush weird so if you could elaborate on that, that would be appreciated XD

Rae Kimball said...

I've lived in London for almost 5 years now (I'm from Oregon) and what you say about the minor differences always feeling like a personal affront? Yeah, I totally and completely understand. I just got back to the UK after a 3-week visit home and in Waitrose today I'm all, WHY IS THERE SOMEONE ALWAYS UP MY ASS? Meaning, I think Brits have awful spacial awareness because going to the grocery store always feels like your're covered in barnacles and there is always someone within 6 inches of you. Or they just don't give a fuck about being polite because there's never enough space and too many people. I don't know if you noticed that or it's just me.... And the ''are you all right'' thing kills me!! The first time I ever came to visit, a lady asked me that at HMV when it was my turn to check out and I just looked at her and said ''yes...?'' And then she looked at me like I was a total dunce and asked if I wanted to buy the CD I had. Lesson learned!

S said...

Fuck it. Get a new credit card and go to Chicago for a fortnight. Life's too short for being sensible, I am discovering. Also, I could google this but I would prefer you to explain what the hell a Christmas tree skirt is! I hope you begin to feel more at home soon. I went on a 3-week roadtrip across America and I was homesick by the end so I can't imagine how you feel.

Hannah said...

I'm kind of intrigued as to how our toilets are different. It's a long time since I last visited America but I don't remember them flushing oddly. I am stunningly unobservant though.
I'm not sure what wax paper is but it might be worth trying to get hold of baking parchment if greaseproof's not doing what you need.

And Rae, it's not just you. I grew up here and still find supermarket shopping a horrendous experience. It takes every ounce of self control not to scream "No matter how hard you try love, that trolley is never going to fit up my arse." at whatever fuckwit is inevitably ramming into the back of me in their impatience to get to the six tonne of cheese/potatoes/whatever that they clearly think are going to run out in the minute it takes me to pick what I want...

Dr Norf said...

As a transplanted Canadian to London, I feel you on the 'Are you alright?' bit. Made me feel slightly panicked at first too but you get used to it. 'Cheers' didn't come easy at first either but it came along in time. I knew I was a proper Londoner the first time I used the 'C' word...

I'm sorry you're feeling a bit homesick, I was just in Canada for Christmas and had a little sad about living my life so far away from my family. But then I came back to London and the sun peaked out and I said to myself 'this is my home'. Maybe you'll get there, maybe you won't... That's the exciting thing about life right? Good luck!

amberance said...

Don't worry, the toilets are fine. They just have a push button flusher and not a handle, and half the time they're built into the countertop so if the chain on the float breaks I have no idea how you would fix it. As long as we're in the bathroom, you should also be aware that the lights operate on a pull chain and there are no electrical outlets in there except a specially designed one for shavers. So if you're used to using the blow dryer in the bathroom, uh-uh, you're not doing that here.