Sunday 27 August 2006

the great unwashed

We had our first dinner party here last night. Mark Lister, client/colleague/neighbor and his amazing partner & bag maker, Kat came to our wee (I am scottish now and can say that to fit in) flat for Saturday night supper.

Well it wasn't as much of a dinner party as dinner and some rocking 80s trivial pursuit, which I was all too excited to play, until I realized it was the British version. I barely knew about my own rock idols and political scandals in the US when I was 15, less having any awareness of overseas issues. I was a miserable failure. But we laughed and they asked my all the 'obvious' ones that I 'should' get. Um. Not so much.

But we christened the occasion with the Jamie Oliver Italy cookbook -- making 100% new things that enabled us to buy ingredients from all our local purveyors -- Edinburgh farmers market for 3 variety of cherry tomato, Crombies, the butcher for pork loin and Italian sausages,
Valvona and Corolla for expensive buffalo mozzarella and Parmesan and linguini and amazing and annoyingly dear Amalfi lemons, ciabiatta, and the Sicilian bakery for creamy cannoli type smattering of desserts. Wine was drunk. As was decaf and port. We dabbled in Scattegories, my all time fav game. I am not even fun I like it so much. And ended the night with some hilariously bad charades.

It was a smashing fun night. Especially not to go anywhere except down the ball to bed when it is over. Which brings me to my title. The washing up. We have managed to jointly ignore the entire pile of glasses, cookware, splatterings, colanders, wrappers, plates, bottles and mess the entire day and just turned out attention instead to the TV. All day. Great unwashed humans and kitchen.

It has been a lovely 24 hours.

Friday 25 August 2006

what to wear

Black is the new black.

I am happy to report the number of women at work and to- ing and fro-ing in the streets of Edinburgh in a head-to-toe outfit of choice in all black.

It seems to be the weekday uniform of many – in combos of trousers, skirts, dresses, cardies, blouses, jackets. Some ultra dressy, some quite casual and washable, but all of them in black. I must admit, it is a bit of a relief after all the pressure to wear color and be lively. I have not gone all black yet, but I know that lazy day nears. It is too easy to not do on that day when the alarm is extra alarming and the closet seems a complicated place to manoeuvre.

I am unearthing my few remaining corporate duds and decided that I really like that 15 minutes when I am freshly showered, coiffed and dressed and out of the house in the brisk of the morning. It feels good to be going somewhere and having a destination. Being part of the world. Mind you, the feeling starts to fade as soon as I am on the bus… but I am enjoying it, even in its briefest of appearances. Mostly, I think I like this chance to wear grown up clothes again -- to be buttoned and pressed and feel sharp. It is a nice change from the soft and forgiving clothes of coaching and house minding. Where one can easily get away with the same bad t shirt and stained workout pants for days.

Fall seems to be approaching here… kids back at school already for a week. I am now dreaming of boots and jackets and rosy cheeks and darkened hair and lipstick shades. And of tweed and texture. And plaid. I mean tartan.

This may be the best thing about working. Just use it as an excuse for a costume change.

P.S. I saw a poncho yesterday. It didn’t look that great.

Tuesday 22 August 2006

2 scottish-isms

  1. where do you stay= where do you live
  2. what did you get up to= what did you do

Sunday 20 August 2006

sunday night blues

9:31 on Sunday night.

Staring down the full frontal assault of a week ahead.

I am so not with the hang of it all. And so very behind in personal communication that I don't know where to begin.

I was gasping for the weekend to arrive. Yesterday we drove to North Berwick... charming town on the north near the sea and ate lunch at the Ship Inn in order to eat chips. Mark has a hankering and I never met a fry I didn't learn to love. We also milled around and looked at sea urchins like barnacles and mussels and snail much like giddy 10 year olds. I even slipped on a seaweedy rock and fell on my tuccus (and was wearing skirt) to complete the graceful day. Today, like a proper Sunday, we spent the entire day paying homage to toast and tea with the Guardian, the Sunday Times and The Herald and broke our promises to ourselves and each other to go to the gym. Now it is too early to go to bed but too late to do anything but ... and I have yet to get out of the lazy day wardrobe.

I already have the Monday morning stomach ache. And wondering if it will go away after a few weeks of doing this. I realize that almost everyone in Goes to Work Every Day. And I am making an oddly large amount of noise about it. I just wonder what happened to me that I am finding it all rather hard to swallow. Or does everyone find it hard to swallow and have just learned to ignore the mass in their stomach that tells them that this is not what they are meant to do.

Wednesday 16 August 2006

fashion notes

Ok, thank you all for the poncho wearability update. Consensus is that I can still wear it, mostly, but it is no longer Bleeding Edge. Noted and appreciated.

I have noticed the following trends here in Eburg:
  • lots of dresses/skirts over trousers/jeans. Intriguing and I am not sure I could pull off . will consider. I may be too conservative and not enough funky factor.
  • flat flats, ballet slippers shoes on all women
  • what we used to call 'skimmers' in the late 80s... like pumps but without the heel. hideous reincarnation
  • leggings under short minis. with no feet. just to the ankle. only works on the very minute women under the age of me.
  • loads of annie lennox short and sassy haircuts on the women 30+. Usually coloured in funky hues. Love it.
  • many very beautiful women in general here. I notice and am also reminded when walking with subtle Mark. Nicely, he includes me in the grouping. He is smart.

day 3

past the hump
and all the better
for I've had a few meetings with a few people
and feel interconnected
which helps
like me

Tuesday 15 August 2006

observations from my space

My caveat and message to the universe and to this post is that I am VERY grateful to have a job. I am happy to earn OK money in an honest way. And am glad I have the skills and abilities to work without getting sweaty or dirty. I am pleased to work. I want to work. That said, I have some initial thoughts on re-entry to the corporate world.

  • Note that my observations are from my space. Not an office or a cube, just a space along a row with 2 people on my right and 1 person on my left. It is one large room with many many rows of such configurations. Turning the handle on the machine. This is how the UK offices look. Standard. No walls. Nowhere to hide.
  • Access to outside e-mail like yahoo is blocked (this is normal now, yes?)
  • Coffee is either downstairs at Discounted Starbucks or free instant coffee from a free vending machine (y-u-c-k-o), no mug to wash, Andrew. Plastic. Which enhances the flavour.
  • Weirdly, no garbage cans (or rubbish bins for that matter) under your desk space. One big one you walk to with your apple core near the vending maching. (It gives you are reason to get out of your chair)
  • Also so very unlike my many other American jobs, NO ONE is surfing or on e-mail not only because things are blocked, but also you have visuals on pretty much everyone's computer. And people are not camped out chatting either. No visitor chairs = no visitors, I guess.
  • No kilts in the workplace yet (although yes, I have seen plenty since I have been here and I am finding it rather sexy)
  • Guys wear ties, gals wear anything slightly businessy. But lots of high heels. The boys have noted the discrepancy (why do WE hafta wear ties???) and are not happy to have to wear the noose. I agree it is unfair.
  • Friday is jeans day, naturally
  • People say wee a whole lot "Can you hold a wee minute?" Or "I am a wee bit concerned we are not meeting the deadline"
  • People also say Aye for yes. As in "Aye, I'll be at the meeting" or Do you want to go? "Aye"
  • Scots have a very calming and lovely manner and I want to be one. I do feel I am flying the American flag every time I open my yap. I am hoping they find me at the very worst different, at the best mildly amusing.
  • I can only understand 3 of every 5 Scottish accents.
Remember when you got a job at 16 doing something like, um Taco Bell? And it really reminded you that you were going to school so you didn't have to work in that environment? I kinda feel that way now after 2 years of not having to be in my desk at my job from 9 to 5. I don't mind the work I do at these jobs really. I have a hard time getting very attached to any of it. But mostly I mind the prisoner feeling of having to BE THERE. And it so far is re-establishing my commitment to my coaching and/or at least a flexible space. One that is not in a row.

Monday 14 August 2006

the badge is back Posted by Picasa
First day on the job!

Must look neat and tidy and un-memorable. (Nothing worse than turning up in an outfit that makes a statement and you are forever called Girl in Pink or the One with the Dress.) Bottom line is that I survived that first day horror of not really having anything to do and having to try to look like I am doing something. And all the while seeming alert and enthusiastic and sitting more erect than is comfortable. And wondering if I am going to the bathroom more than everyone else and if they are noticing.

She was a long one, today.

But the in house subsidized Starbucks and lunch and nice Scottish co-workers were bonuses for the trade of office air.

And nice husband to escort me on a walk home.

I may even go back. Each day this week.

God help me. Posted by Picasa

Sunday 13 August 2006

I need to know

Are ponchos still in?

Living with a boy (even Mark) I have no barometer on what still works. And I don't quite have the feel of Edinburgh style yet, although I think J Jill (oh how I miss you) esque might define it. More linen, less lace.
Less trashy than Cambridge's townies. More aging artist and yummy mummy.

So I am going to be ballsey and wear my apple green poncho tonight out for pizza with neighbour/client/friend Mark Lister and his fab girlfriend, handbag maker Katherine and Mark's wee boy and his sister and kids visiting from US of A.

Please let me know if I am making a 2002 fashion statement. You know who you are.

Friday 11 August 2006

pizza, diet coke and cable

I am a simple girl after all.

Mark is on his wedding gift from me Learn to Cook Fish Course in London and all I want to do is watch TV and read. I am rediscovering the joys of recently rerun Will and Grace and the occasional Party of 5. I think I am front loading my TV time as I will soon be relegated to evenings and weekends like normal people.

I reali(z)se that I am obsessing about working. I am just nervous that I am, in part, returning to a kind of job I turned from when I started coaching. I don't want to go backwards. I know deep down that I have changed and grown and at least mutated into something different than those days of numb cubicles and getting through the day. I am just scared of the flashbacks.

So I am turned off, tuned out and tellytubbying myself into a rubbery gauze of relaxation and simple pleasure.

Tuesday 8 August 2006

I blinked and I have a job

I was just looking forward to watching TV and being able to e-mail people and catch up online... and to having rugs on the floors and things in place on the new shelves. And to know where my undies were and to wake up knowing where I was. And a library card, and a doctor! In the last 2 weeks, all those things all happened and somewhere along the line I also got a job.

Starting Monday.


It is a 3-month contract job (through a recruiter) for Standard Life Bank (mortgages) doing a marketingy thing -- helping get all their marketing collateral updated now that they are a PLC. Most importantly, I will be setting my alarm and showering and blow drying my hair and getting on the bus and wearing shoes with heels, pants with a zipper and button and talking to other people in person in a cube. I will even have a badge to get in.

It worries me. Seems All too 2004, yes?

I will be on the job during work hours of 9 to 5. What a way to make a living. And coaching in the off hours.

Trial run to see if I remember how to play well with others. And see what the inside of a Scottish company is like. And muse about my Next Steps in coaching, working and living. All the while making some dough for the family name and accounts. I am proud. I am a bit nervous. And I am a bit full of dread. I had a good run.

It also feels as a bit fast as I was hoping to while away August with Mark, finding a new gym and going to cheap Fringe Festival shows. But when she knocks, you answer.

I am finding Scotland quite lovely. And not JUST because I am wearing a sweater in August while the rest of Western Civilization is sweating to the oldies. Although it helps. Talk to me when it is Day 400 of rain and cold in December though.

But Edinburgh people are nice. Really friendly. Edinburgh is hilly, which made for the premier bike ride suprisingly un-enjoyable. (Greenie was not, repeat NOT happy with all the cobblestones.) Wind suckingly hilly. And everywhere I turn I find a restaurant I want to eat at. And shops I want to buy things in. And streets I want to walk down.

And all the fun starts next week. I plan on being as lazy as possible for the next 4 days so I can be so sick of myself come Monday and ready to do anything. Anything include work.

Thursday 3 August 2006

At our good bye evening with the professionally fit friends Kelly & Chris.  Posted by Picasa

YE HAW! We made it! (Plus, nice abs shot, Marko!) Posted by Picasa

only barely connected

Just so you know, I am forced to use actual telphone dial up for our internet and we have to PAY for the call, so I am being infrequent in my e-mail check ups. I am feeling so very behind in news of the world and of my people. It is cruel and feels punishing to be so hindered, but come Tuesday we shall be 24/7 again. And I shall resume my OCD e-mailing.

Happy Mary Faculjak Day on August 3! Posted by Picasa

The famous Alexander McCall Smith at this signing at John Lewis department store. He was charming and lovely. And has enormously bushy eyebrows. Posted by Picasa

AND the super deluxe bonus, Alexander McCall Smith in my hood for a signing of his new Edinburgh-based books! Posted by Picasa

Monitoring the progress....  Posted by Picasa

Our front entrance! Note the garden location down the stairs...  Posted by Picasa

The happy helper Mum Val with her grateful son Posted by Picasa

Mark's pop Tim making a flower basket for our front stoop Posted by Picasa

In the National Rent a Van ... headed to the promised land. Posted by Picasa

The long and winding road on the A1 to Scotland Posted by Picasa

At our good bye drink up with the Cambridge crew. I was deeply overserved this night and even barfed. Out with a bang. Posted by Picasa

the fun of dis-assembly! This is Project Cambridge Exit Posted by Picasa

Wednesday 2 August 2006

10 initial reactions

  1. We do not have broadband or a TV signal until next week making it 10 days sans connections. Am forced to Dial UP! And monitor my online time as it is 4p a minute!
  2. We have an awesome home. Front stoop complete with in-law created hanging flower baskets. (my first!)
  3. Back garden for table/chairs/laundry line
  4. conservatory for total tea time with book and watching the sky
  5. SEAGULLS! We are in the urban city, but no so far from the Firth of Forth, so instead of pigeons, we have literal squawking seagulls laughing and swooping.
  6. Within 2 blocks: health food store, wine shop, Indian, Tapas, 3 pubs, Thai, Italian, Take Away joint, Coffee, 3 news agents, John Lewis & large shopping center, Fishmonger, award-winning butcher, florist, cute paper/cards store. WHAT MORE COULD A GIRL ASK FOR? Ok, a bookstore/library & a Bobbi Brown or Aveda store and a yoga center and a gym, but still... not shabby.
  7. Despite a funds freeze, we have a small amount allocated for home decor -- and bought a great stripy rug for the l room. And god help us, we are going to Ikea today.
  8. Promise to post photos as soon as I am organized.
  9. We also have a power shower that makes you glad you are dirty.
  10. I have to find a job.