Thursday, December 31, 2009

Decade in Review

I'm not sure why, perhaps it's out of sheer boredom, perhaps it's my old age, but I feel the need to reflect on the past decade. I liked the way Marsha did this on her blog, so I think I'm going to go with that format!

I was living and working the corporate life in Baltimore. It wasn't the greatest job, but I did make some life long friends while working there. Then, thanks to my friend Kim, I finally scored a job using my undergraduate degree! I moved out of my apartment in the 'burbs and found a great apartment in Fell's Point and started commuting to Annapolis everyday. This is when my love of the Junkies on 99.1 (morning commute) and NPR (afternoon commute) blossomed. This is also the year I started my weight loss of 60 lbs on WW and I really started exercising on a regular basis.
The CO2 field site at SERC. Tough place to work, eh?

Really enjoying my job and the opportunity to do some traveling. Over the next few years I'll get the chance to travel to San Diego, Austin, Albuquerque, Phoenix, southeast Montana, and Charlottesville all on work's dime. Non-work related travel (i.e. friends, weddings, and babies) in this decade takes me to NC, Wyoming, Lake Tahoe, upstate NY, and Florida.

Visiting Lake Tahoe for Julie and Steve's wedding

I bought my house! I got a passport! I traveled to Italy! My friends (i.e. non-family members) start having babies this year. Me? I was living the single life in Baltimore, worming my way through the dating scene.

Okay, I can't really remember anything specific happening this year. If I recall correctly, physically, this was the best year of the noughties. I never looked so good! More friends and family members getting married and having babies. Me? I was living the single life in Baltimore, continuing to date the entire male population of this fine city.

I started working part time at a shop in Baltimore. It was either get a roommate or a PT job. I picked the job. It wasn't so bad and I made some awesome friends. My life consisted of FT job, then either PT job, gym, or happy hour with friends. I did a lot of DIY stuff on the house, like painting and laying my new Pergo floor. I traveled to Ireland for the first time with my cousin and friend. We have a blast! Life is good.

Connemarra, Ireland

Traveled to Ireland again this time with friends who were moving back after their time in the US. Again, it's a blast! Work is going okay, but I'm started to get the itch to move on. I'm thinking about getting my Master's degree in higher ed administration and hopefully working with international students. After weighing the pros and cons, I decide I want to do this degree overseas. It's faster and the cost wouldn't be much different than doing it in the US. I start the research. Oh yeah, and I turned 30 this year. Boo!

My 30th birthday party!

Traveled to England in February with my cousin to visit the uni. Then all within the next 7 months I apply to uni, get accepted, start the process for moving my cats, find tenants for my house, sell my car, put all my stuff in storage, quit my very secure job, and say goodbye to all my friends and family before moving to England! My parents come with me and we get the chance to travel up to Scotland before I have to start my course.

Mom and Dad in Kirkcudbright, Scotland

The kitties come back to the UK with me in January! Yay! I travel to Edinburgh for my birthday in February! Yay! Wes and I have our first date in Oxford the following weekend! Yay! Life now consists of procrastinating (yet somehow finishing) my coursework and Wes either coming to Bath for visits or me going up to Sheffield. We travel to Amsterdam in April for our first vacation together. Wes moves to Dublin for a new position, so now we're becoming quite familiar with Bristol airport and the hatred that is Ryanair. He comes to the US that summer to meet the family. Fortunately, he is not scared away! I successfully finish my course in September and I'm working part time in Bath until I can get a new visa. Right before I go home to the US for Christmas I find out I got a new full time position in Bristol working in my field, and I'll start in January. Woot!

Wes and I in Gettysburg, PA

Living in Bath and commuting to Bristol everyday. Really enjoying the people I'm working with at my new job. I'm given some great opportunities in the position and I'm enjoying it, even if the pay sucks. Wes and I traveling back and forth between Bath and Dublin about once a month. Things are happening quickly and when we're in the US that summer we check out wedding venues. Things are booked, plans are made, rings are purchased, and invitations are sent.

Some of my wonderful work friends on one of those 'Dress Crazy for Charity' days they have in the UK

The is the best and worst year of the noughties! My visa expires and I leave the UK in February. The cats and I stay with Wes in Dublin until I go back to the US for the month before the wedding. On March 30th (while I'm in the US) I get word from the pet sitter (in Dublin) that Obie is sick and on April 1st I find out that he has died. This is the worst day ever, not to mention it's 4 days before the wedding. I miss him loads. :( It's so strange that the best and worst things that happened to me in the entire decade were so close together. The wedding was that weekend and it's a truly wonderful day. It was a tad bit windy, but the sun was shining and it was a gorgeous day, perfect in every way! After the wedding it was back to Dublin and the start of married life. It's been a year of adjustments: living with my husband, starting over in a brand new country again, the stress of not being able to find a job, and the difficulty of making new friends. Struggling with my weight again sucks (gone are the days of soup for dinner) and I really miss my old gyms and instructors.

Obie - RIP 1 April 2009

Best.Day.Ever! 4 April 2009

Hmmm...that sounds like I've left the decade on a bit of a downer. 2009 was a fantastic year, but I'm really looking forward to what 2010 has in store for us. Maybe that's why I'm not really one to reflect on the past like this. It kind of makes me sad and really, I'm just so excited about the future. I remember when my life long friend and I were graduating high school, her mother saying to us how she was excited to see where our lives were going to go from there. Can't wait to see what's next!

Happy New Year! Good health and lots of happiness for everyone in 2010!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I've married into a family that doesn't eat traditional Christmas pudding, cake, or those bloody mince pies! Yippee!!! May 2010 continue to be as prosperous!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

No shoveling for me...

I can just enjoy the pretty pictures from Mom and Dad!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This shopping trip was pants!

At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy duddy again, today I'm going to rant about casual pants (or trousers if the word 'pants' makes you giggle). I have two pair of jeans that I alternate between, but I'm looking for something in the corduroy or chino variety. You know, something like this from Ann Taylor Loft. Oh yeah, I went there!

Basically, the rant is that they don't exist here. This is not a fashion statement the Irish want to make. There are loads of nice work pants, but my choices for non-denim casual pants are leggings and track suit bottoms. And everything is skinny: skinny blue jeans, skinny black jeans, leggings, jeggings. Well, everything's skinny except my legs. I had to purchase my last pair of jeans in the US - the land of fat thighs and skinny lattes. I'm actually not opposed to wearing leggings, in fact, I love the pair I have, but they're not very warm. Maybe if I paired them with some Uggs.... No, the thing about leggings is, contrary to the popular belief of those in North Dublin, you aren't supposed to wear them with short tops. They're supposed to be worn with tunics and long sweaters. Okay, I'll look for a new tunic to wear with some leggings. Dear shopkeepers: 'Open' is not a size. Why are you too lazy to put a size on your garment which clearly is not one size fits all? Oh, and a sweater who has a color described as 'ketchup' actually becomes less attractive to me based on that description.

Don't get me wrong...I actually like Irish style and fashion - dressing in layers, tights, warm hats and gloves. Just not right now. Not when I need to find casual pants.

Someone's happy about the heater finally working!

(This angle does nothing for her waistline!)

This is where she spent most of last winter. We both miss radiators!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Pictures

My parents just sent these pictures. The first one is of their beautiful, but artificial, *sob* tree. We like lights on our tree. Can you tell?? And the other one is of my favorite ornament mentioned in the previous post. I'm the one in the green ice cream cone! :)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Christmas Meme!

I saw this posted on Live Journal and I thought I'd use it for my blog.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I will always try to wrap a present because I love wrapping gifts, but sometimes it's just too awkward and needs to go in a bag.

2. Real tree or Artificial? I'm definitely a real tree kinda gal, but I won't forget that time I walked into my parents house commented on the beautiful tree, asked if they got it from our usual place up the road, and was told it was artificial. I was gutted! Matching the branches up to the right hole isn't quite the same as having dad lying under the tree adjusting the trunk while we all stand around and tell him which direction it's leaning to now.

3. When do you put up the tree? We don't have a tree this year because our apartment is too small, but I would normally put one up in early-mid December.

4.When do you take the tree down? No specific day, usually a few days after the New Year or whenever I get the chance.

5. Do you like egg nog? Gross, no.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Well, I wasn't a child, but my favorite gift I received was a ladder. It was the Christmas after I moved into my house and I was excited to paint! I also recall high-fiving my brother-in-law the year we got wet/dry vacs!

7. Hardest person to buy for? My middle nephew. The older nephew? Fine. The younger nephew? Easy. My new niece and nephew? Piece of cake and yay for finally getting to buy for a girl! The middle nephew? Freakin' impossible!!!

8. Easiest person to buy for? Wes is pretty easy to buy for (if he doesn't buy it for himself first!) and my mom is pretty easy too.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes. My aunt gave us a wooden one for a wedding gift and it looks perfect on our mantle.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? As expensive as it is to mail them, I can't imagine emailing Christmas cards.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? There's nothing that sticks out as glaringly bad. Maybe the dorky socks my mom always gave us because when she gave us money or a gift card she wanted it to be in a box for us to open and it always seemed like dorky socks were included in that box.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Not sure. I know it's definitely not White Christmas which I finally watched for the first time a few years ago and feel it has nothing to do about Christmas and more about winter. And I've never seen It's a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street which horrified some people at our Secret Santa party last weekend. I had to Google 'Christmas Movies' and was reminded of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. I enjoyed it watching the snotty brats really bring it together for a heart-wrenching ending.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Normally I wouldn't start until December, but when you have to ship to the US you have to be a bit more proactive.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Probably one I've received in a 'White Elephant' type gift exchange.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Chocolate chip cookies with red and green M&Ms.

16. Lights on the tree? Of course! I'm not fussed about colored or white, but I definitely prefer the little lights to the large retro looking ones.

17. Favorite Christmas song? There is no way I can pick a favorite song, I love them all! However, I will say that I prefer the classics and hymns. The only newer Christmas song I like is Mariah Carey's version of All I Want for Christmas is You. The other day I heard Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree and it made me a little homesick for the US. For some reason that song makes me think about being at my grandparent's house in Bedford. Good times.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I'm happy to travel at Christmas if everyone else in the world stays at home. Last year I traveled from flew from Bristol to Dublin, then took the train on to Cork and I was not a happy camper. In fact just the trip to Dublin completely pissed me off and we hadn't even done the stupid long train trip to Cork yet!

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Only if I sing the song.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? I had a star on my tree in the US and my parents always had and angel. I'm not fussed either way.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? What kind of a question is this!?

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The way people become all crazy and mean at the shops. Hearing about people who give their family explicit lists of the gifts they want and you're not allowed to deviate from the list. I think that's kind of sad.

23. Favorite ornament, theme, or color? It's been so long since I've seen my ornaments that are storage, I can't remember my favorite! I like snowmen, so I have a lot of snowman decorations. I don't really like themes and I'm a fan of the hodge podge tree full of sentimental ornaments. Some of my favorites from childhood are the ceramic ornaments my grandma painted for us, including the ice cream cone with my school picture glued on it. Haha! We also had some pretty glass ornaments with angels on them that always looked nice with the colored lights behind them.

24. Favorite for Christmas Dinner? Ham or pork roast. Turkey is so Thanksgiving.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? I had to retire the high top sneaker slippers (another stellar Christmas gift!) when they got moldy, so I really really really want new slippers. I remind Wes of this every day. Last night I told him about some fuzzy socks that would be nice and he told me I've asked for too many things related to my warmth. Um, okay. I'll take some ice cold diamonds then! Thanks!

Christmas 2002 at my house in Baltimore

Edited to add: I showed this to Wes and when he read number 6 he asked if I was a lesbian. Nice. Can't a girl love a little DIY!?? Some girls make scrapbooks, I install a Pergo floor and hang ceiling fans! On the plus side, he didn't scoff too much at my diamond statement. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

All I had to do was leave the flat...

and the list continues! More things that get on my nerves:
  • Dublin drivers - they're freakin' maniacs! It's pretty sad that I don't even drive here and I'm scared of them!
  • You can't buy postage with your debit card over the counter. I knew this ahead of time because I tried it a couple of weeks ago. I also knew that the ATM in the shop with the post office was out of service that day and I didn't know if it had since been fixed. So I thought ahead and went to a different shop to use their ATM first. They have gotten rid of their ATM. And the ATM in the shop with the post office still isn't fixed.
  • Christmas postage stamps only come in the old school lick-to-stick version. I got to lick 63 stamps. If only ONE person appreciates that their Christmas card has a Christmas stamp instead of the regular adhesive kind that will make my day.
  • Nosy people in the supermarket check out line. No, it's not my milk or veg or ice cream that has made that big wet spot on the belt. Thanks for touching all over my stuff.
Things that do not get on my nerves:
  • Half price Ben and Jerry's at Dunnes.

Some things are getting on my nerves

  • I haven't blogged in awhile mainly because things are pretty boring around here right now.
  • The mold in the living room is worse. Moving the dehumidifier in here didn't help at all, so it's back in the bedroom where it does actually help. This particular wall is concrete and it looks awful. It's clear the landlord just had someone paint over the mold because you can see it under the paint. You can also see the moisture on the wall. I cleaned off the mold, but the stuff under the paint remains. It's to the point that I'm too embarrassed to have people around now. I'm pretty sure that turning the heat on will help, but we're cheapskates and heat is mega expensive.
  • When someone on the expat forum I frequent is approved for their spousal visa some people congratulate them by saying, 'Welcome home!'. I know they are just trying to be cutesy and nice, but I think it's annoying.
  • I'm going to the post office today to send off my Christmas cards and holy crap it's going to be expensive! At 82 (cents, pence, whatever they call it here) per card and I have about 50 cards, it's going to be ridiculous! I had to assure Wes this is the last year I'm doing Christmas cards. Sorry family and friends!
  • The 2010 budget for Ireland came out yesterday and there was no line item in it stating that we would have jobs available to us next year. A little more clarity would be nice! That means more waiting...hrmph!
It's only 11:20am, so I'm sure there will be more later!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Blew. My. Mind.

Last night I was perusing various expat blogs and came across this most informative post about Uggs from the Vegemite Wife. This blew my mind so much I had to tell my husband about it and he was actually interested in what I had to tell him, clearly blowing his mind as well!

I hate Uggs. I think they're hideous. The worst is when the wearer pronates their feet and are essentially walking on the side of the boot. That look, coupled with sweatpants or worse, pajama bottoms, is enough for me to make a snide behind-their-back comment. I am old. But I digress, because this post is not about my inability to conform to the trends of the young whippersnappers of today. No, this post is to let you all know that Uggs are actually SLIPPERS only meant to be worn inside Australian homes! I KNOW!!! People are spending hundreds of dollars on a pair of SLIPPERS! The Vegemite Wife who you may have guessed is Australian (re: Ugg expert) from her name has let the cat out of the bag on that one! Maybe other people out there already knew this, but I didn't and it explains a lot. This footwear is made for inside wearing only and should never have seen the light of day. I blame whichever celebrity was the first to wear them as outdoor footwear. Can't Uggs be so 5 minutes ago already??

Right...I need to go watch another episode of MASH, drink my camomille tea, and take my morning nap.