Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Things I Miss (part 1)

Our good weather karma has run out.  Today is cloudy, cooler, and threatening to rain.  The gray day has put me in a blue mood.  I've only been here a couple weeks, but that's long enough to notice the absence of some things I've come to take for granted:

  • My friends - I miss my family, too, but since they live in California, I rarely saw them in person, while we used to hang out with our friends on a weekly basis.  It's going to be challenging to make new friends here, and impossible to replicate the close circle of long-time friends we have back in DC.
  • My house - After spending a year and a half transforming our little Spanish bungalow into our dream house, we only got to live in it for a year and a half before having to move out again.  There's no way we could afford to live in a place that nice here in London, and after being spoiled by the custom luxury of our own home, it's hard to go back to renting someone else's.
  • Water pressure - it takes FOREVER to wash my hair!
  • Iced tea - see my previous post.  I swore off Coke several years ago and switched to unsweetened iced tea, which I usually drink every day.  They don't serve it in restaurants here, nor do they sell the bottled stuff in stores.  I'd make my own, but there's no pitcher in this apartment and I haven't been able to find a decent one that would fit in our tiny refrigerator.
  • Washing machine & dryer - the washing machines here are tiny, complicated to program, and take at least 2 hours to wash a load of laundry.  Hanging clothes up to dry leaves them stiff, wrinkled, and linty -- especially towels -- and is largely ineffective if it's raining. 
  • Resealable packaging - Ziploc technology has not made its way across the pond.  Packages of cheese, lunch meat, cookies, tortillas, etc. have to be double-wrapped in plastic grocery bags after opening so the contents don't go stale.
  • Free refills/water - with the exception of Nando's, restaurants here do not offer free refills on soft drinks, and if you want water, you have to buy it by the bottle.  Since we are cheap, we end up getting a bit dehydrated when we eat out.
  • DVR - we have gotten into the habit of watching TV on our own schedule and fast-forwarding through all the commercials.  Our apartment has an extremely basic cable package and no DVR, so we have to watch the old-fashioned way.  Since most of what's on TV here are reruns of crappy American TV shows -- Two and a Half Men is on ALL THE TIME -- we haven't been watching much TV.  I'm looking forward to signing up for a better cable package and DVR when we move into our rental house next month.
  • The Daily Show/The Colbert Report - How am I supposed to keep up with what's going on in the world if I can't watch the fake news?  Because we are in the UK, we can't watch American TV shows on the internet, so Hulu and the like are of no help.
  • Refrigeration - Yes, we have a refrigerator, but it's so small we have to store anything taller than 8 inches on its side, and even set at maximum it barely keeps things cooler than room temperature.  It seems like the norm here is to go grocery shopping nearly every day and just pick up enough food to last until the next trip.  I guess that makes sense when you have no storage space, inadequate refrigeration, and no car, so you can only buy what you can carry home and consume within the next couple days.
  • Financial independence - Hopefully this one is also temporary, but since I currently find myself with no job, no bank account, no credit cards, and no proof of residence, I can only buy stuff that I can pay cash for -- and that's limited to whatever Josh doles out to me when he goes to the ATM.  That means I can't sign up for a cell phone plan, a magazine subscription, or a gym membership -- or do any online shopping or take advantage of any Living Social/Groupon deals.
  • My stuff -- except for a few pairs of shoes and one suitcase full of clothes, all my worldly possessions are either in storage in the basement of our house back in DC, or in a shipping container somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean.  I'm looking forward to being reunited with my stuff in a few weeks.  I hope it gets here on time.
OK, that's enough complaining and self-pity for today.  I don't mean to give the impression that I don't like it here -- just that there are some things that will take some getting used to. The culture shock is pretty minimal compared to just about any other country we could have moved to -- except maybe Canada.


    1. I miss you, too! If it's any consolation, it was in the lower 40s and raining on Saturday, and it's been raining and chilly today, too. As for lack of sufficient iced tea and free water . . .that would really upset me, too!

    2. It's grey and rainy here today, too! Never fear, we can easily ship you packages filled with ziploc bags (I am still reeling in disbelief that they don't have them!), though the other stuff will be a bit of a challenge. And facebook will help you keep in touch with your besties. And once you move into your rental and have a greater sense of permanence, you will start to develop a routine that seems every bit as normal as your old routine did, and hopefully one in which you don't need to get an allowance from your husband...

    3. Hi Naina: As you may have heard it has been raining here virtually every day at least part of the day. I think we're due for two days of no rain and then it comes back again. Hoping it will translate into a beautiful May.
      I walked by your house earlier tonight and it looked all dark and closed up. Have your tenents moved in yet? I think you told me it was a single woman and her child? Anyways, I took the time to read back over all of your entries. Sounds like it will be good once you can connect w/some folks. Keep your chin up; it will happen eventually. Take care, Nancy Pilchen

    4. Thank goodness you don't have to deal with a language barrier on top of everything else! Your banking issues are so ridiculous, I had no idea it'd be so hard! One day soon you will be sitting at a table, laughing it up with your new friends, drinking iced tea and feel more like your 'house' is in order. Perhaps you'll develop an accent while there (hehehehehe).


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