Tuesday, 25 August 2009

In the meantime

First off, I need to say that I know that I am extremely lucky. I have a decent job and make decent money (though I see very little of it since we’re committed to saving for our future). I have good co-workers and even a friend at work and I’m so grateful. Things are good to great in my personal life; I have an amazing and supportive husband and family-in-law, and I have brilliant friends back home and around the world, though I could use a few more here to have a bit more of social life. The problem is that I know I’m not living my best work life. I’ve had my adventures (and you better believe I will have more), I’ve travelled, I’ve fallen madly in love. But there’s a gaping hole between the hours of 9-5. I’ve tried to ignore it for the past four years, but now it’s so big, I fear that I will fall into it. I need to really stretch myself and I know I’m not doing that now. Don’t get me wrong – I’m doing a good job at work. I always do. But I want to be a warrior princess at work. I want to put out fires, engage people, build things up and see the end result. I guess in some ways, I do that now on a very small scale, but I climb ant hills at my current job; what I really want to do is scale Kilimanjaro. But I have to wait. I know now that I definitely want to pursue a Masters degree, most likely in Public Administration and/or Community Affairs. I want to make things happen that will better the lives of people at the community level. I want to get in a position where I’m managing the projects and calling the shots rather than assisting those who are doing all the fun things. The future me is coming into to focus. But I can’t start it now. My excuses aren’t lame, but real and insurmountable for the time being.

So I have to make the most of the meantime. Because I need to continue living in the present. I got pretty good at this while living in Japan. Everyday was a struggle and an adventure. Now life is a struggle but very much in an easier way. Now I must wait in the dimly lit tunnel of the every day without getting apathetic. That, people, is a task more exerting that trying to understand directions in a language you barely understand. But for my sake, and my family’s sake, I must do it.

So here is what I'm going to do: really enjoy my time and do STUFF. Like explore this beautiful country like I used to in that other country I lived in. Dave and I will take little weekend trips (on the cheap!) and discover our adventuring selves again. I'm going to pursue a new hobby (sewing) and reconnect with an old one (knitting). I'm going to host dinner parties and go out for happy hour. I'm going to enjoy my time here so much that I will be sad when it's time to go. This is my new goal.
The picture above was taken nearly a year ago by my SIL Louise. Girl's got talent.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

On having a non-Saturday wedding

I lurve Saturdays. I can sleep in, stay up late, do whatever and eat whatever I want without guilt and be an all around bum. They are blissful and an awesome day for an event. So no wonder Saturdays are so popular for weddings. I think I haven't yet been to a wedding that wasn't on a Saturday.

Initially, the husband (ooh, I still love saying that!) and I assumed that we'd get married on a Saturday (obviously), but I wasn't exactly married to the idea (pun!). I'm a very flexible gal and so when I started seeing links for "mid-week special" of course I clicked on them. I tell you, the pricing differential can be OUTSTANDING. Of course, Saturday weddings are a venue's bread and butter, and increasingly, so are Friday and Sunday. Monday to Thursday are infinitely less popular days to get married, but for the engaged couple, they can be a lifesaver. For people who don't know Dave and I, we are extremely pragmatic. So when we saw the pricing differentials, getting married on Thursday was an obvious choice. Ok, not so obvious, but really, really good.

Between us, we broke it down:
  • It was our wedding so like SNAP, we had the power;
  • Since we decided to have it in the summer to best accommodate our families and friends on both sides of the Atlantic, we knew they would be on holiday anyway, so essentially, every day would be a Saturday;
  • The money thing (but I’ve already mentioned that); and
  • Thursday, in my book at least, is almost the weekend.

So that was it. We booked Thursday, 09/07/09 (British for July 9, 2009) and we were done.

At first, I would constantly tell our invitees that it was a Thursday. I guess I was somewhat embarrassed because it seemed to announce that we were too poor for a Saturday wedding. But it was no big thing. No one bitched or asked why and it was just accepted.

As time went on, I became a bit proud that we decided to go against the grain and do what was right for us. To some, I could see how our decision could be construed as selfish; in essence, we were asking local people to take a day off. But it was our choice to have our wedding on a Thursday so it was their decision to attend. Personally, if the shoe was on the other foot, and Dave or I was close to the person/people getting married, would take the day off in a heartbeat. (I had to qualify that because I refuse to go to weddings of people I’m not close to or don’t like. They can be tedious affairs, particularly if you have no connection to the people getting married).

So it worked for us. And what kicks ass is our anniversary will be celebrated on the weekend for the next 3 years. That’s pretty sweet.

* You'll notice I posted pics of the kiddies that attended our wedding. They didn't give two poops about our wedding being on a Thursday.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Canadian Accent, Eh.

Is there such a thing??? I'm not too sure, but some Brits I have encountered are adamant that there is. Apparently, these people can tell I'm Canadian because my accent is "nicer", "softer" and "less brash" than my American counterparts. I'm not sure if they are referring to stereotypical personality traits of Canucks, but since I'm on the phone a lot these days, the origin of my accent comes up quite a bit.

Personally, I think generally, the differences are minimal. Eastern Canadians, particularly the islanders, have a strong, jumbled accent, borrowing from their Scottish ancestors and god know what else. I also think Canadians have a somewhat nasal quality to their inflections. I recently heard a woman being interviewed on the news and I instantly said "She's Canadian" and she was. She was from some small town in B.C. and was nasal as hell, so I instantly heard the difference. Then again, Midwest Americans (I use "Fargo" as my reference) are pretty nasal, so you just can't be sure.

From my experience of living in the UK, it seems that Brits don't like Americans, or the idea of them, and are always eager to engage a Canadian. Everyone has a cousin/aunt/friend of a friend who lives in Canada and our reputation often precedes us. That usually means I can say most anything and get away with it. Muhahaha. Still, I feel a certain pride talking about Canada and discussing the differences between us and our Southern, gun-toting, anti-healthcare, undercover Republican brothers and sisters.* It's almost like being back home.

*I kid. I know they're not all like that.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Drive by book review: Let the Right One In by Kåre Hedebrant

I’m not sure if anyone has heard of this Swedish film in North America, but I think it left an impression on British filmgoers. It is dark, sad, amusing and gruesome. Dave and I saw it in a tiny indie movie theatre and thoroughly enjoyed it. There were a few other viewers watching and I was aghast that they snickered at some horrific parts, but overall, I thought it was brilliant. So when I saw the book at our fave DVD store, I bought it without hesitation.

Super fast summary: The story tells the tale of the burgeoning relationship between a child-vampire (Eli) and a bullied boy (Oskar) set in a rather depressing part of Sweden. It’s a multi-voiced narrative that paints a picture of the intertwining lives of Eli’s caretaker, Oskar’s bullies and a few other characters who all play a role during the dark winter days that see murders, loneliness, paedophilia and love. But the main story is the development of the friendship between Eli and Oskar.

What I thought: Though some of the themes were fairly dark and some aspects were a bit nauseating, I thought Let the Right One In was extremely well written. I respected Hedebrant’s ability to tell several stories at once without weakening the arch of the plot and ultimately reach a satisfying, albeit violent, conclusion. I used to read vampire novels back in the day but haven’t read one in about 15 years (and I’m not going to start on Twilight, thanks.) For me, this was certainly the darkest of the genre, but oddly, the most human. If you don’t mind a bit of fantasy and violence and are more interested in the relational aspects of human nature, then you’d probably enjoy this.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

On multicultural weddings...

Since this never actually became a wedding planning blog, plain old recaps didn't seem appropriate, and besides, I find them a bit meh. So I'm going to post about what I learned and how I integrated it (or didn't) on our wedding day. Maybe someone might find it useful or maybe you'll just like the piccies (who doesn't like wedding pics?!). Either way, let the post-mortem begin!

Once upon a time, I was sick of dating guys who didn't have a culture of their own. I mean those people who unfortunately don't or can't remember their roots because they were 10th generation whatever and interesting cultural traditions got lost along the way. After the last guy tried to appropriate my culture without sharing anything in return, I decided that the next guy I dated and ultimately married, would have culture coming out of his pores.

Then I met Dave the Scot. Exotic much? Well, for me anyway, meeting a real life Scot complete with the accent, the kilt and the history nearly knocked me off my feet. Of course, I fell in love with Dave because of who he is as a man, but his culture was very attractive to me. So integrating our cultures was a no-brainer. I always knew my Ghanian* heritage would be front and centre but it was nice to share that stage with Dave's culture. It wasn't difficult at all. I told my mother I wanted people to wear the traditional kente cloth and we just knew the men on Dave's side would wear kilts. My mother asked if I wanted to change into traditional dress for the reception and I said no because I couldn't fathom wearing my wedding dress for a couple of hours - I could wear a kente outfit to a fancy restaurant on a Saturday if I wanted. And that was that. The attire was taken care of.

Since the wedding took place in Scotland, we had a bunch of Scottish touches such as haggis parcels for hors d'oeuvres, a piper who piped us out of the ceremony and into the reception, and a reading by a Scottish poet. This probably was common practice for our Scottish guests, but they were a whole new world for the Canadian, American and Ghanian contingents. Just to nail the point a bit more, we hand an old Celtic ritual performed - the handfasting. I had sewn together two long strips of kente cloth and tartan for this ritual as it conveyed not only the joining of two individuals and families, but two cultures as well. It was and is so important for us for our cultures to be shared with each other and we wanted to share with our guests.

Another thing that we did was have a couple of songs from each culture. We did some ceilidh dancing (traditional Scottish country dancing) and danced to some high life Ghanian music. I was a little nervous about this, but it worked. People loved it! Most Scottish people have never heard Ghanian music and vice versa. One high point for me was seeing my mother-in-law shake her money maker and yell "Am I doing this right?" and me enthusiastically giving her huge thumbs up.

So my thoughts on multicultural weddings is this: keep it simple and make sure both sides are represented equally. They are fun, unique, beautiful and educational. Communicate with your partner and your parents and be confident in the fact that your guests will most likely be blown away by the differences and similarities. For our wedding, one of the things that keep blowing me away is the multi-ethnicity and the vibrant colours in the photographs (sorry if they're not coming through here). A few more pics to see what I mean:

Our families

My family. My cousin at the end left and my aunt to my right flew in from Ghana. The love!

I love this shot for a couple of reasons: Firstly, our friends are gorgeous and they flew out from 3 different countries to be with us. And secondly, we met in Japan and they were there from the genesis of our relationship. We had to kick it Japanese style and give up the peace sign for this pic.

Ceilidh dancing. This was the "Gay Gordon", which I love. Lots of twirling, but make no mistake, this dance is a workout.

Our celebrant tying out hands together, saying beautiful words the whole time.

At the end of the handfasting portion of the ceremony. I loved the symbolism.

All the boys and kilts and me. Yum yum.

My uncle and the best men. The best man to the immediate left dubbed him the African Tony Soprano. Yeah, that works.

*I spell "Ghanian" the way Ghanians do, though if you look it up in the dictionary, it's spelled "Ghanaian" and also pronounced that way by non-Ghanians. Confusing? Hopefully not. But if you go to Ghana and ask a Ghanian what she calls herself, if she was brought up in Ghana, she'll say Ghanian.

I'll be back soon with some more lessons learned. Ta!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

It's over. Now what?

I admit it. Even before the wedding took place, I was wondering what I would do with myself after. (It's funny when people discuss the before and after about their lives when it comes to a wedding). We got engaged in April 2008 and got married in July 2009. That's roughly 15 months of planning, people! And some of that time was spent planning the wedding full time as I was unemployed. Some days it was all encompassing, interesting and exciting. And on other days, the whole thing made me sick. By June 2009, I was tired of all the planning, arguing with my mom, dreams/nightmares, DIY projects, lists, checking and re-checking, and talking about it ALL THE TIME.

So when Dave and I started talking about the after, we got excited. Like, really excited. We would have our weekends back instead of traipsing around Edinburgh looking for paper, or meeting with vendors and working on making our wedding memorable and personal. We wouldn't have to talk about it with our friends and family all the live long day. We could watch movies without guilt, sleep in, cook and just hang out with each other. HEAVEN. So while I was excited about THE BIG DAY, I was even more excited about being married and doing married stuff with my husband.

I think the above photo accurately paints a picture of my relief and my anticipation of the evening, and the life, to come. My sister-in-law, Louise, who took this photo, put it on FB with the caption "Yessh". That about says it all. Here - I blew it up for ya:

So, it is now a month later, and I'm still feeling that relief. But I admit, I am getting a bit twitchy. I'd really like to take a sewing course somewhere in the city or close to home, but I haven't found anything yet. I could just teach myself to sew, though. We have a few gift vouchers left over at John Lewis so I could probably get a sewing machine without having to spend my own money. Dave and I are planning a couple of trips next year, so I can look into that. I could start trying new recipes and uploading them here. There are plenty of things which are interesting, engaging and budget friendly (Dave and I are saving BIG TIME so there won't be much left for "things"). I don't think I'll fall into this "post wedding depression" I've been hearing so much about. I just like being occupied and there ain't nothing wrong with that. While I'm looking for this new hobby, I'm just going to keep enjoying our time together. It's so precious and oh so sweet.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Wow, I suck.

Ha ha. I cannot believe it has been 3 months since I last updated. I can make all the usual excuses for not updating, but I don't want to bore you. Suffice to say, I've been OMG busy, with work, the meeting of the families, AKA, the clash of cultures, THE WEDDING, and keeping my head above water. All in all, I survived and should get a gold star. The past few months have shown me that Dave and I are creating our own little family and we are truly partners through and through. He's been amazing, level headed, patient, generous and sweet and has proven every day that he truly is the right person for me. And for that, I will be eternally grateful.

Over the past wee while, I have been thinking about this blog and where I want it to go. I have ideas but have been failing to follow through. I commute and the last thing I want to do is get on the computer when I get home. I have considered buying a mini computer, but then I would have to move my pictures from one lap top to the other. I could bring my computer with my from time to time, but it's heavy and I walk to and from work and home for about 45 minutes total each day. Or I could just sneak in posts once a week just to keep this thing going. I want to write and share, butI just need to DO IT.

So I will.

So I'm back. I plan to continue blogging because contrary to what I thought, my friends back home do read this thing so who am I to disappoint them? Plus, it's cathartic to write about my life in Scotland as an expat. I also plan on blogging a bit about our wedding and the joy and the pain that encompassed it. Dave and I have been cooking like mad freaks and I'd like to share what's been going on in our kitchen and in our lives as newlyweds.

Please accept the picture above as a peace offering. I'll be back with more pics and more stuff.