What I got!

My buy: a porcelain mould for making rubber gloves, now a slightly creepy jewellery storage device

One of the things I’ll miss most about living here? The Brooklyn Flea, which used to be right downstairs but now has an excellent new plot in Williamsburg with views of the Empire State.

Also! Great shopping. Which leads me to my friend Kate Payne’s little shopapalooza, the Brooklyn Flea Spree, in honour of her excellent new book, The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking – in which I was one of the bloggers tasked with finding something fab for $25. You like? If so, please vote!

I’m in good company here, people – the other bloggers are Mouth of the Border, Fucked in Park Slope, Brokelyn and Autumn Makes and Does. So I need all the help I can get…

And here's the book!

And here's the book!

Silver box, with crystal beads inside that I might make into something else. Bought this too

Silver box, with crystal beads inside that I might make into something else. Bought this too

Porchetta roll. Not homewares, but I could have had five for the same money

Porchetta roll. Not homewares, but I could have had five for the same money

Very cool terrarium from Twig, complete with mini sheep. Outside my budget, sadly

While I was sat in my pyjamas at 6am, watching William and Kate single-handedly save the British monarchy and by extension all of civilisation (and giggle at the word “poorer”), I had a sudden, uncomfortable realisation. I missed a massive opportunity to make some cash.

Every single TV channel here was saturated with English voices, most offering almost no insight whatsoever. Stand up, Imogen Lloyd Webber, and your repeated observation that the Prince and his bride were “keeping it real, keeping it royal”. See also cod psychologist *cough* body language expert Judi James, Cat Deeley (really? Why?) and assorted randoms clogging up the breakfast show sofas. I’d mistakenly assumed that as someone with zero royalist credentials, I’d not be wanted. I was obviously wrong. Read the rest of this entry »

From the Google group/message board for our building:

We met in the lobby a few weeks ago, you spotted Henry, my little
Chihuahua and thought he might be a suitable playmate for your little
guy.
I will be visiting this afternoon, is there any chance for a
doggydate?
XXX!

No comment required.

Yup, we did those. Quite chuffed too.

Americans love a holiday – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day – any excuse to buy decorations. (Yes, Mother’s Day and Halloween aren’t actually holidays, but that’s just another difference in our mutual language – if you mean holiday, you say vacation.)

This weekend, an entire houseful of grown-ups dipped boiled eggs (and our fingers) in dye and had a thoroughly good time. I can’t say I remember decorating eggs since the age of six, and I can’t imagine anyone I know doing it back home, but the American enthusiasm for tradition knows no bounds. The Brit in me wonders if it’s because they have such a short history; the expat thinks it’s great.

Yesterday, we made a huge decision: we’re moving back to England. My husband got offered a job that was too good to turn down – but even so, it was a tough call. We’ll be going back in six weeks, packing the flat into a container ship and the cats (at great expense, and even greater bureaucratic insanity) into a Boeing 747’s cargo hold.

Far more difficult than the logistics is how conflicted we feel: British politics seem parochial, now, and the country itself feels very, very small. I fully expect to feel like a stranger in my own country, not recognising TV shows and celebrities, and getting words for things wrong.

An expat, repatriated – what’s that going to be like? Thinking of keeping up with the blog for a while…

Over two years since I started this blog, three things consistently make me feel like an outsider in the US. You can’t be a Brit in this country without being shocked by the tenor of the abortion debate, the frequency of shooting massacres, and the patronising inefficacy of most TV news anchors.

More and more, I blame the last one for the other two. Without someone like Jeremy Paxman or (radio, but still) John Humphrys to hold the commentariat to account, instead you have news anchors simply passing the metaphorical microphone back and forth. And as a result, the loud voices of the lobbies don’t see the need to speak the truth.

This week, as the dust settles on the budget battleground, the spotlight has grown brighter on Arizona senator Jon Kyl. As neatly dissected here, he told the Senate that “You don’t have to go to Planned Parenthood to get your cholesterol or your blood pressure checked. If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that’s well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”

It’s actually 3 per cent, but when asked about his 87 point margin of error, his office responded that it was “not intended to be a factual statement”. Kyl’s due to retire soon; how lovely of him to give such great parting gifts to Colbert, Stewart, Maddow and co…

Tornado warning over Manhattan, July 2010, by RM

This weekend, an epidemic of insomnia swept through the city. OK, so I can’t actually prove that, but in the highly unscientific survey I have conducted of the literal handful of people I’ve spoken to since Saturday, there are maybe four who, like me, have repeatedly woken up drenched in sweat every night since Thursday.

Tonight I finally realised the reason, and I’m at least 85 per cent sure it’s not the onset of early menopause: the Humidity has arrived. Read the rest of this entry »

Now that the Great Blackberry Famine of 2011 has been averted (and more importantly, my biometrics appointment with USCIS won’t be cancelled next Friday), one’s thoughts turn to other more important things. Like why, in a country that brought us the iPad2 and AMC’s really quite good remake of The Killing, recycled toilet roll is such a disaster.

A couple of weeks back, I hit up Pathmark for a quart of milk (ha, get me with the lingo), and grabbed a 24-pack of Marcal Small Steps, thinking: large pack, less packaging, even more eco points for me when they do my 360 evaluation at the gates to hell. Read the rest of this entry »

Here in New York, the prospect of the federal government shutdown isn’t really going to hurt, unless you’re a tourist or, you know, a federal worker.

If John Boehner keeps chucking his toys out of the pram, forgetting what the 1995 shutdown did for Newt Gingrich’s reputation, then we’ll see a few closures. Anyone who picked this weekend to see the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island is going to be mightily pissed off. We’ll still get our post, we’ll be able to get on planes, people will still get their social security cheques and food stamps, and bicyclists will still get arrested for speeding.

Any New Yorker who does work for the federal government, however, will find their style severely cramped. Because while you’re furloughed, it’s not just that you’re not being paid to work, it’s that you’re not allowed to work, on pain of a $5,000 fine or even two years in prison. And as this excellent story cheerily reported, that means going total cold turkey on email while you’re not in the office. Terrifying.

Note to self: next April 1st, set alarm for 6.55am rather than customary 7.30am. This way, I might manage to miss stories like this one in the Guardian, which, post the midday GMT jokes-cutoff-time, conveniently lists all the April Fools jokes I was going to have 12 seconds of fun trying to spot in the Sun, Telegraph, Metro and so on.

They also helpfully list the one about 3D radio on the Today programme, if I hadn’t stopped listening to that within seconds of arriving in the States. Once upon a time, I was addicted to the Today programme. Very effective way to jolt yourself out of sleep, the public school-hazing-induced fury of John Humphrys. These days, I get the cheery Soterios Johnson, who I can contentedly doze with for an hour until my radio switches itself off.

Problem is, the British media just really goes for this April Fools stuff in a way that the American print media is far too serious for. Read the rest of this entry »