Tuesday, March 30, 2010


So, in about two hours, I'm getting my first tattoo. I've wanted one for at least 6 years, but I either never had the money to get the one I designed, which I wanted to get first, or I didn't have a place to go to get it. But I remember deciding years ago that I was going to get it when I finished my BFA - which was nearly 3 years ago. This is getting ridiculous, I've just gotten my MA, I'll get one of the smaller ones I want. It's cheap enough that I can afford it, and the bigger one can wait until I have a job.

I never have just one reason for doing anything, because I am one of those people who sits down and thinks through every single pro and con before deciding to do something, so I can't tell you exactly why I have been so hellbent on getting tattooed. And this was a relatively impulsive decision for me - I mean, the tattoo I'm getting is one of the ones I've wanted for years (all my tattoo ideas are based on books that were important to me, but that is a ridiculously long post for when I don't have to leave in an hour and a half) but about a week ago I said, "You know, this is getting absurd, and I should just get one priced and see what I can do about that." And I did so.

The major reason, I guess, is that as time drags on and I can't find anywhere to work, I have to face the possibility that I can't, in fact, pull this off, and I will have to give everything up and leave England. The idea makes me sick, but I think it would help, just a little, if I got tattooed here before I get hauled back to the States. So there's that.

Obviously, pictures will go on the other blog - but only after it heals, because ew. So give that a week or so. I'm getting the Latin word "et" in insular script on my shoulder. Basically, I'm getting a trendy ampersand tattoo, even though that's not what I set out to do. Feel free to judge me.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


My last IM update to my parents went something like this:

*update on jobs I have applied for*
*update on museum association application*
*update on organizations I'm planning to send letters of intent to*
*pathetic plea for jellybeans*

I can't buy jellybeans here. No one will sell them to me. The thing is, I didn't even particularly like jellybeans before I came here, except for the black ones, because I have some sort of terrible licorice addiction. But it's my second Easter here, and I'm beginning to miss jellybeans, even the ones I never particularly liked, like the pink ones and the white ones. All I can find here is chocolate. I can't even find Peeps, which I don't care about, but get back to me next year if I'm still here. Last summer NephthysWrath, who knows I have issues with black jellybeans, brought me two bags of black jellybeans when she came to visit. That was awesome. But now I am so desperate for jellybeans that I think I might even be okay with my parents sending me a bag of white ones.

I can't even speak of the Almond Joys.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"Your children are where?"

What? It's only been a month. I think I was planning to talk about what my family thinks of me staying here, so, here we go.

Sending your kid to school in Europe makes you look really good, especially if it's grad school. When I was still in school, people would ask my parents what their kids were doing, and they would say "Oh, one's in school in California and the other's in school in England," and people would find that interesting and tell them how lucky they were to have ambitious, hard-working kids.

It seems, however, that once you finish school in Europe, you're supposed to say "Well, thank goodness I can go back to the States now; I certainly miss fountain sodas and Wal-Mart and my extended family," and go home without any argument. Apparently, you aren't supposed to say "No! I'm not going back! I like it better here! You can't make me leave!" and begin applying for residence permits. Now, it seems, people ask my parents what I'm doing, and they say "She's decided to stay in England and look for jobs," and people totally look at them funny.

It gets worse for them when you add in David, who's staying in California for another year to do a Master's. Now they have to say, "Well, our son is in school in California and our daughter lives in England," and people start eyeballing them, as though they had said "We kept our children chained in our basement for 18 years, and one day we accidentally left the door open, and they fled in opposite directions and we haven't been able to recapture them." I'm no longer increasing their social status, I'm making people think they're weird. I have to admit, David and I find all this hilarious, which is probably not nice of us.

The other thing is, my mother suddenly has empty-nest syndrome. It's just peculiar. When I moved back home for a year so I could work on scamming an archaeology program into admitting me, she was very displeased. Then, when I got accepted, she did most of my immigration paperwork so she could be sure I was actually leaving. I'm not saying there was actually a foot on my ass at that point, but she had at least metaphorically tossed my suitcases onto the sidewalk. And I clearly remember that when David and I were both at USC she was really happy about us having finally moved the hell out. And then I get home two months ago and she's started scrapbooking, and keeps trying to talk me into considering moving back to the States, without saying anything directly (for example, I'll ask if they can bring me Almond Joys the next time they visit, and she'll say "so you miss those! But not enough to move back?"). I don't know what happened. A few weeks ago she actually said, "Maybe I should have had a third child! Maybe that one would have stayed with me!" as though she wouldn't have run out of patience and shipped the hypothetical third child off to college in Australia by now.

So, to summarize - I've stopped making my parents look good, and now they just look weird, and also, they miss me. To their credit, they've been amazing about the whole thing. I certainly gave them plenty of warning, but I don't think they believed I really meant to do this until I started that struggle with my latest visa application that lasted for several weeks. They miss me, but they still visit all the UK job sites and send me job leads, and fund my Museum Association membership, and edit my CV for me so I can find a job and stay here and continue to cause them to get looked at funny. They rule.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ancient Egyptian Kitchen Curse

So, I'm back in England. And I did have other things to write about, but first I have to share this.

On Tuesday evening I went down to the kitchen to make dinner. I had leftover pasta sauce from Monday, so I was just boiling water to make more pasta. I hadn't bothered to put my hair up that day (jetlag is so much fun) and we have a gas stove. You see where this is going, right? I thought there was something floating in the pot and was leaning over to investigate with a spoon. "Hmm," I said to myself, "this is maybe not a good idea. I hope I don't set my hair on fire - oh bugger."

It's waist-length again now.

So the next day, I went down to make paella. I put my (shorter) hair up first, because I do learn. But then I was rummaging through the bottom cupboard where we keep all the pots, pans, and baking dishes, and a stack of them overbalanced and one of the glass baking pans fell six inches onto the linoleum and shattered into approximately six billion pieces. I don't even understand how that happened. I could understand if it cracked, yes, or maybe even broke into a few pieces, although it wasn't a particularly hard fall, but the darn thing exploded. Cleaning that up was certainly fun. And I've just been reheating the paella since then (it did turn out well) but I've almost finished it, and I'm afraid to cook anything else.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

That Family

So I had four seals replaced on my molars today (G: "This is very pleasant. Normally I do this procedure on 6-year-olds, and they cry") and, on our way out, my mother wanted to stop and make an appointment for David in July. (Did I mention that she had to keep making and canceling appointments for me all through November and December? Like, four in all? Because she did. Heaven forbid her kids get home and don't have dentist appointments waiting for them.) Anyway, as we (read: my mother, with minimal participation from me) were chatting with the receptionist and everyone else who kept wandering by, because we know every single damn person in that office, I read the appointment book upside-down. The receptionist only wrote "David" and a phone number. There was no need for a last name, because they all know exactly what family they're dealing with.

Yes, I did tease my mother about that the entire way home.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Teeth, again

So today I finally had a dentist appointment, after nearly two years without one. My mother was practically breaking out in hives, especially since this morning I did what was, in hindsight, probably a very bad thing, and announced that I had a black spot in the crease of one molar. Black spots are bad. In England I read paleopathology textbooks for fun, and they spend a lot of time on teeth, so I theoretically know how to diagnose cavities, from the tiny white "might become a cavity someday" spots, to the giant two-inch holes involving four teeth and the jawbone and a sinus dripping pus down someone's neck (the days before modern dentistry were bad ones, you guys.) Also, I still have that issue I talked about over a year ago with the gum over one of my canines being totally painful for no reason at all except, apparently, to give my mom ulcers, and I have all these spots near my gumline where the enamel just looks funny, and I found out this morning that my area of England does not put fluoride in their water, so my mother was totally convinced that my teeth were rotting out of my head, and my dentist was going to have to remove them all and give me dentures. And I have this ongoing issue with potential periodontal disease that actually really freaks me out, so I keep asking my dentist about it anyway, to his complete annoyance, I'm sure.

I got my favorite hygienist, G, the one with a personality kind of like mine but with the rougher edges forcibly removed so that she can deal with the public without too much yelling. I like her because she is sarcastic and totally happy to discuss the genetic markers in the population that can cause periodontal disease, just to entertain me. So I ran down my nice long list of issues my mother wanted me to discuss (I have no insurance here anymore so she was paying full price for this,so by God we were going to look at EVERYTHING), and G said, "Well, it's been two years, but we'll just see about that." Meanwhile, my mother is in the waiting room climbing the walls (what, like she was going to stay at home? Please.)

So I get my X-rays done (after I pry out all my earrings except the two that are never coming back out, and G, observing this, tells me to never pierce my tongue because there's a particular type of infection that can give me) and I have all the happy fun scraping and cleaning and poking my gums to see if the bone is dissolving (AUGH) and it all takes four times as long as you would think, because G is excruciatingly thorough and also remembers things (from two years ago) like how many foreign languages you're trying to learn and what you wanted to do your dissertation on, and keeps stopping to discuss this with you (meanwhile my mother is writhing in the waiting room because OMG THE BLACK SPOT.)

So finally she gets done and, before she goes off to get my dentist to look at me, she says, basically, "There is nothing wrong with you. That black spot is a STAIN, you've had white teeth all your life and you think every stain is a cavity, sheesh. Your gums are sore because you had the IUD put in and your immune system is freaking out. You are an alarmist and a hypochondriac. Dr. W. will be in shortly." Actually, my mother is the alarmist, thank you so much. But I still don't have any cavities, so I'm okay with these accusations.

I don't have any cavities, but I'm still going back to the dentist on Monday. You see, the Black Spot of Anticlimax is in the crease of a molar, and all my molars used to be sealed, but the sealant has come off three of them, and that was one of them, and now it's stained. And there are stains in one of the others, and G said "keep an eye on those, they may become problematic." And I went out into the waiting room and told my mother this, after I relieved her agony by saying there were no cavities but G says I should think about getting those molars resealed at some point. And my mother, being my mother, said "YOU ARE NOT GOING BACK TO ENGLAND UNTIL WE SEAL THOSE. Back in the office. We're making another appointment." Splendid.

Also, my mother would like you all to know that she feels her paranoia is justified, because she has crowns, root canals, and a perio pocket now full of sand in her lower jaw, and we do share the same genetics. And I feel she has a point, because ew.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Heating Pad

I have a whole series of posts about culture shock and how fun it is to travel around with my parents (AUGH) which I will post when I get around to posting them, but for now, here is a story.

About three weeks ago, I had an IUD put in. I'm not dating anyone, nobody panic. I did it for a whole variety of rational reasons, including but not limited to:

1) I was probably going to need a copper IUD at some point, because I can't have any hormonal birth control (I have enough problems controlling my depression without extra hormones floating around in there) and the only other options are the diaphragm or condoms, which I've always seen as being backup methods, or the rhythm method, which...well. I have nothing polite to say about that "method."

2) I was still afraid, at that point, that I was going to get kicked out of England. If I have the NHS put in my IUD, it's free. I like free. So I decided I'd better get on that before I got my visa results back.

3) My cousin is pregnant again, and is due in August. HER FIRST CHILD IS NOT EVEN A YEAR OLD YET WHAT THE HELL. Apparently she decided she had some extra sanity just lying around that she could afford to give up on mountains of diapers and never sleeping again, although I've never seen any evidence of her having any sanity to spare. I think my ever having children is a spectacularly bad idea and this just set off all my paranoia and anal-retentiveness, because GOOD GOD.

So now I have this IUD, and my uterus is very angry about it. I have never experienced cramps like this in my life and they've been going on for THREE WEEKS NOW. Even my Aleve is failing me. So last night I got home late, and I dug the heating pad out of the hall closet, and I considered it.

The thing about this heating pad is, it's really old. It still lives in its original box, which has an alarmingly retro design, not something you look for in an appliance that is plastered with warning labels designed to help you prevent it from electrocuting you or setting you on fire. Seriously, they're printed across the cover as well, which appears to be made of burlap, because this thing is old as hell. And the box is very clear about it only having a five-year warranty, and I know I used it in middle school when I was thirteen and it was old even then, because my parents are not enthusiastic about replacing appliances until they see actual sparks. But I had already had more Aleve than was probably advisable, and I had had cramps all evening, and I wanted some damn sleep, and it was way too late to go out and buy another heating pad, even though, strangely, all the shops in this country stay open later than 5 pm. So I plugged it in, and I switched it on, and I fell asleep on top of it despite all the dire warnings about how, if I did that, it would eat all the skin off my abdomen and I would never notice until it was too late.

This morning I wandered downstairs, with all my abdominal skin still intact, and my mother was down there getting ready to go to work. "Mom," I asked, "how old is that heating pad in the hall closet?"

"Oh, I don't know," she replied. "My mother bought it for me; I don't remember when."

Her mother has been dead since well before I was born.

So, since I didn't have a car today, I couldn't go out and get a heating pad that isn't in the final stages of cackling senility. I'm going to have to sleep with this one again tonight. It's starting to seem like a bad idea.