Re-blog: Green Dragonfly blog giveaway.

Would you like to win a pretty & handcrafted shawl? Well, check out the original post. Thanks to D’NALI blog for posting/re-blogging this.

The Green Dragonfly

When I finished this wrap not too long ago and posted the pattern details I got a number of disappointed comments saying the pattern was too difficult to read because it was in Japanese… so because I love you guys and I had enough of the wool left over I decided to make another just like mine to give away to one of you, my lovely readers.

Its a beautifully soft light shawl, very lacy, yet surprisingly warm… perfect for cool spring evenings or autumn days.

This giveaway is open to ANYONE ANYWHERE in the world, and Ill draw the winner on Sunday October 14, 2012.

To Enter: {{This giveaway is now closed}}
Leave a comment!
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Fashionably late.

I attended my first ever, bona fide fashion show with 3 women. (Meetup is the best.) But before you see the photos, I’ll briefly open a window (just a bit) into a small part of my life.

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09.22.2012

I actually was “fashionably late” due to missing the train. I’d say that my style reflects New York City, but… well… suffice it to say that no one asks me for fashion tips.

Pardon, I’m rambling.

Anyway, I attended my first ever, bona fide fashion show with 3 women. (Meetup is the best.) But before you see the photos, I’ll briefly open a window (just a bit) into a small part of my life.

Before moving here, I was small. Throughout my life I was either teased for being too skinny, or told “I wish my body was like yours” (or some variation thereof). I could eat almost anything I wanted, in any amount, when I wanted. Freshman 15? Never happened to me. I was never overweight. In spite of this, I didn’t like myself.

Fast forward to now, and I’ve gained weight since moving here – never been overweight in my life until now. You never miss what you had until it’s gone and in my case, I wish that I appreciated my health & body more. I’m not used to it and it affects me a lot, negatively. (NOTE: This is not about looking down on overweight or obese people, so don’t pen any hate mail.) Being unable to fit most of my old clothing, yet not knowing where to find affordable & fitting clothing, made me look & feel slovenly (along with any other negative feelings). This was especially so in 2011.

Toward the end of 2011, I re-evaluated many things in my life and decided that working just to pay bills wasn’t worth it – mentally, financially, physically or emotionally. I resolved to make myself more of a priority in 2012 and beyond, and I’ve done alright so far. However, figuring out clothing sizes & cuts & colours & etc. was/is still a bit of a challenge. I also sustained an injury that has made it hard for me to work out & lose weight. (Getting older isn’t much help with weight loss either.) I found out about a stylist’s Meetup workshop and got a free ticket. Her tips gave me some ideas about where to start, as fashion has never really been my forté.

Little by little, the tips are helping, along with attending the show. Not only did I see women of different shapes & sizes (dressed better than me, no exaggeration), races & ethnicities, I also got a look into some of the latest trends. I know that I’ll never be a true fashionista (mostly because I generally hate shopping), and I may never dress like a true European (of any race or ethnicity), but I’m developing my style and now have an idea of what’s classic, current & fitting for me. I’m trying to work with what I have, no matter my size.

Alright… enough about me. I and the 3 women had a nice time; we wandered around for a few hours & each got something to bring home for ourselves. One even scored a great DKNY denim jacket for a decent price. Check out a small sample of the show’s offerings.

Kat & Bee. http://www.katandbee.co.uk/
Kat & Bee. http://www.katandbee.co.uk/
The Branch. http://www.the-branch.co.uk/
The Branch. http://www.the-branch.co.uk/
MariaFrancescaPepe. http://www.mfpepe.com/
MariaFrancescaPepe. http://www.mfpepe.com/
Vivienne Westwood. http://www.viviennewestwood.co.uk/shop/womens-accessories/shoes/
Vivienne Westwood. http://www.viviennewestwood.co.uk/shop/womens-accessories/shoes/
American vintage. www.cashmerebytania.com
American vintage. http://www.cashmerebytania.com
Free (and purchased) goodies.
Free (and purchased) goodies.

The following photos are from the ALICE by Temperley catwalk show. ALICE by Temperley is a collection under the Temperley London line.

Caroline Flack, host for ALICE by Temperley catwalk show.
Caroline Flack, host for ALICE by Temperley catwalk show.

And here’s one of my small purchases from Kat & Bee.

If you’re a fellow expatriate, have you experienced body changes? How did they affect you (if at all)? How did you adjust to the changes? Are you pleased with the changes, or are you learning to work with what you have?

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Few Of My Favorite Things.

For more about the Weekly Writing Challenge, click here. For more about this week’s writing challenge, click here.

(NOTE: This is the challenge from 2 weeks ago. Whatever… I’m still dealing with jet lag from going home. Better late than never.)

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For more about the Weekly Writing Challenge, click here. For more about this week’s writing challenge, click here.

(NOTE: This is the challenge from 2 weeks ago. Whatever… I’m still dealing with jet lag from going home. Better late than never.)
________________________________

My maternal grandmother died over 17 years ago. Although it has gotten easier with time and the pain isn’t as sharp as it used to be, the longing, the memories, the love… even the pain, no matter how dull… never go away. She was a major part of my life. We (her grandkids) saw her almost every day, as she lived down the block from us and watched us after school sometimes while our parents worked and made their way home in the evenings. We’d play in front of her building, not too far from her sight of course. Our old neighborhood is far from savory, so after calling us to get in before the street lights came on, we were inside with her and/or down the hall at my god-sister’s house and/or upstairs at my play cousin’s house (her god-daughter).

Before I moved over here, my aunt J surprised me & gave me one of my grandmother’s possessions as a parting gift. It pained her to do it (she shed a few tears), but she wanted me – the oldest grandchild & only granddaughter – to have it. I was, and still am, humbled by it and keep it on my dresser. I’ve even used it once or twice. What is it, you ask?

Her old school powder puff. (I have other items from her, but this one sticks out the most.)

Grandma used this powder all the time, whether she was making a quick run to the store, or going on a weekend trip to Atlantic City, New Jersey (Wikipedia link) with her sisters (my great-aunts), or visiting Panama (Wikipedia link) or Barbados (Wikipedia link) or (insert anywhere here). I vaguely remember her putting it on, standing in front of her mirror as she finished getting dressed. I loved hugging & kissing her after she dabbed the powder on her neck & chest because she smelled so sweet! She’d fuss at me a little – “Don’t mess up my face (make-up) & clothes!” – but she knew full well that she loved her granddaughter’s hugs & kisses.

I still think about her, miss her, and love her beyond infinity. I wonder how our relationship would be if she were still alive. Grandma liked travelling a bit, so I’m sure that she’d visit me over here for a while and, later, fuss at me for making such a fuss over her.

(Panamanian accent) “You don’t worry about me! I’m not that old, I know where I’m going. I want to explore this place, it’s so big, my goodness!… Yes, I know it’s like back home but still, it’s big!… Just give me the spare keys so I can find my way around… Yes I’m sure, dammit! You’re not too grown for a pop in the mouth. Your mouth fresh!… Yes, I’ll be fine… Yes, I’ll call you… No, I won’t lose the spare phone… Alright alright! Ay yi yi, dios mio, yes I’ll behave!… I love you too, babes.”

If any of you are from the Caribbean or Central America or South America (hell, almost anywhere worldwide) and you have grandparents or older parents who visit you when you’re an expatriate, they stay long time! My grandmother would surely stay at least a month.

I laugh just thinking about it… but that’s how I picture things in my mind if she were still alive. I’d prefer her to be here in body & mind, but at least I carry her spirit with me everywhere. And it only takes one whiff of her powder to reminisce and treasure the memories.

You are forever missed & loved. Que en paz descanse pa’siempre, Grandma. And thank you, aunt J.

The crack in the cover tells a story.
The crack in the cover tells a story.
Grandma's essence.
Grandma’s essence.

Tell me about your favorite things in the comments section.

Royal Wedding.

I knew I wasn’t going to watch the Royal Wedding live & in living color. However, it’s nice to live/be somewhere in the midst of history taking place.

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I knew I wasn’t going to watch the Royal Wedding live & in living color. I hate crowds, I don’t have the energy to camp out for hours or days like I had when I was younger, and I just can’t. 😐 However, it’s nice to live/be somewhere in the midst of history taking place. So instead, I spent the night at my co-worker’s family’s house. They, too, are American expatriates, and my co-worker’s husband actually wrote an article about the wedding for his hometown newspaper (he had to go for at least a few minutes).

Kass’s blog entries about the Royal Wedding:
Royal Wedding – Yuck. Prolog
The Royal Wedding: On The Scene
Royal Wedding Part 2: Journo-ism (unedited version of published newspaper article)

There isn’t really much to say, so just take a look at the pictures below. Please pardon the bootleg nature of the photos. 😐 Enjoy.

With this ring I thee wed.
With this ring I thee wed.
HRH Queen Elizabeth & husband Duke of Edinburgh.
HRH Queen Elizabeth & husband Duke of Edinburgh.
It's official: husband & wife.
It's official: husband & wife.
Fly-over.
Fly-over.
One of many crowds.
One of many crowds.
Catherine.
Catherine.
Balcony.
Balcony.

The kiss.
And finally, the kiss.

Come on over (part II).

A few weeks ago, after working together one evening, J invited me to have dinner at her family’s home. Continued.

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(If you missed the 1st part, just click here for it.)

J arrived with niece & daughter in tow and I got in the car. It was already dark, so I didn’t see what anyone looked like until we got to the house. J’s daughter asked where I was from, and as soon as those 3 words came out of my mouth, I regretted them.

Me: “New York City.”

Here we go…..

Oh my goodness! I’ve always wanted to go there. What’s it like? What part are you from? I just wanna go there and shop! How much does it cost to go there? What was it like growing up there? Oh, this is great! I can’t wait to go there one day. What’s their fashion like? (Sidenote: I, Spinster, am the wrong person to ask about any kind of fashion.) I’m sure there’s tons of stuff to do there! And I gotta try the make-up there too! There are probably so many things there that we don’t have here!

And on and on for most of the ride back to the home. 😐 I only answered 1 or 2 of her questions before J told her to calm down a bit. Thank goodness. The anxiety was in full swing.

We got back to the home and J’s husband, a Frenchman (non-English-speaking except a few basic words), greeted me while a couple of female family members put the finishing touches on dinner. The rest of the kids were upstairs until J beckoned them to come downstairs and greet me. (The boys, who are the oldest and in their 20s, didn’t come down; that didn’t surprise me one bit.) She told them to give me hugs & kisses, which was adorable, and they did. Nice warm family. It calmed me down a bit. And wouldn’t you know it? All of the girls who were teens & adults were wearing skinny jeans along with their hijab! They didn’t think I was a whore after all! 😐

I took off my coat & sat down, staring into space whilst waiting for dinner. I felt like an exotic animal because the kids stared at me. The older ones asked me more questions while offering me food & drink. Since I was late, they’d already eaten so the food was just for me. It was strange eating alone while they talked, but at least they were talking instead of staring at me. The food was good & filling. (sampling of typical Mauritian cuisine)

After I finished, I sat back on the couch & twiddled my thumbs. One of J’s older daughters (the one in the car) asked me some more questions that made me groan inside, and then she asked me something I considered strange:

Do you like make-up?

Again, wrong person to ask.

I said

I own some but I’m not into it like most women. I keep it pretty simple when I wear it, if at all.

She asked about different make-up brands and their possible existence back home. I told her about Sephora (my usual go-to for make-up) & offered to show her the website. We wound up looking at the site for a while. This excited her because, unbeknownst to me, she studies cosmetology in college. See, J’s ancestors are from India. Mauritius (detailed Wikipedia entry – Mauritius) has a sizeable Indian-origin population, and so does the United Kingdom. In general, when Indian women get married (or have other milestone events), they sometimes require intricate make-up application, which can only be done by someone who knows their stuff. Since J’s daughter is learning, the Sephora website is perfect for her. It was as if I found some hidden pot o’ gold and gave it to her.

Although her question was strange to me, it did something to me: it decreased the anxiety, relaxing me little by little. I don’t know what it was – maybe having the focus on make-up instead of me? Whatever it was, I felt a little more at ease. I asked them questions about Mauritius, how J met her husband, their religion (born or converted), etc. As an aside, the younger children are at different levels of learning the Qur’an (online version here – Qur’an), and the younger ones had to wake up early the next morning to learn their next sura. Although I’m agnostic, I can appreciate, to a small extent, the positive role that religion can have on people. I think the family is a little relaxed when it comes to Islam (detailed Wikipedia entry – Islam) despite being orthodox; as mentioned earlier, the girls/women in the home wore skinny jeans and watched different TV shows & etc. (Please pardon me if this seems like major generalizing; this isn’t what my intent is, nor should it be taken as such.) Basically, American media doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

Time flew by. We didn’t know it was so late, so I decided to get going. I got up, put on my coat, and held out my hand for a handshake. J’s daughter said

No, we don’t do that here. Give me a hug.

I gladly obliged. Younger daughter also gave me a big warm hug. My world lacks hugs, so I appreciate the few that I can get. They said “Don’t be a stranger, come back soon.”

J & her husband put on their coats and readied themselves to drop me to the overground train station. This time they used the family van. As we drove though, I noticed that we drove past the station, and that’s when J asked me for my address. It kinda caught me off guard.

Me: “Wait, you’re not taking me all the way home, are you?”

Yes. We can’t let you go home this late by yourself on the train. We’re taking you home.

Caught off guard again. Me: “Oh wow, thank you so much. You really don’t have to do this. I really appreciate it.”

And they dropped me all the way home, straight to my front door. I walked in the house, satisfied with the evening’s events. I felt the fear and did it anyway, which is 1 step forward for me. It’s hard to push past uneasy feelings, very hard, but it’s possible.

I was, and still am, overwhelmed by the unconditional acceptance given to me by certain people since being here. Sadly, it’s not something that I’m used to. Or maybe I’m looking into this too deeply, I don’t know. But in a world where one has to have certain qualities & characteristics to “fit in”, where everything about a person gets questioned, picked apart even….. Usually in a negative way, as if one isn’t good enough just the way one is….. it’s overwhelming (but nice) being welcomed with open arms.

I’ll be visiting them again, and they even offered for me to spend the night (I’ll likely accept the invitation). It’s nice to escape every once in a while, even if it’s just to another part of town, and just relax, knowing that all you have to do is just be.

Come on over (part I).

A few weeks ago, after working together one evening, J invited me to have dinner at her family’s home.

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“What the hell did I get myself into?” I wondered aloud while preparing to go to J’s house for dinner.

Might as well start from the beginning…..

After working together one evening, J invited me to have dinner at her family’s home. J is a translator/interpreter, and I acquired her services through my job to communicate with a family whose 1st language is French. We worked together before & after my Christmas vacation, and she seems like a nice woman outside of work. I don’t know her age but since she has 5 children, one of whom is in his 20s, I assume that she’s a little older than me. Therefore, I’d not think that she’d invite me to dinner. After all, I’m younger than she is….. Maybe less mature?….. unabashedly American (whether I like it or not)….. not Muslim….. Why have me over for dinner?

So it was surprising that after one of our last visits with the family, she invited me over. We left the home & walked together quietly as usual until we split to head to our respective buses, and before I got a chance to walk off, she said “Would you like to come over for dinner one day?” I was kinda taken aback because it came out of nowhere, but I managed to say something to the effect of

“Wow. Thank you. Sure I’ll come over. Just let me know what your schedule is and let’s take it from there.”

Even though I accepted, the suddenness of it still left my mind boggled. What did she want from me? 😐

2 weeks passed and we set up for me to come over on 03.11.2011. I was looking forward to it….. at first. She’s from Mauritius which, to me, means learning about a new culture and (most important) trying new food. But that good old social anxiety crept up on me as it usually does. (While I’m a private person, I don’t mind sharing my “flaws”, like the social anxiety, with others if it helps others who experience the same things.) I had at least 1 week to mentally prepare myself, but mind over matter doesn’t always work for me. My mind was racing:

What should I wear? They’re Muslim; I don’t want them to think I’m a whore (whatever that means). What if I do or say something wrong? I don’t know these people. What’s their culture like? What if I don’t like the food? Would it be rude to say something about the food if I don’t like it? Okay, I’ll stay for no more than 2 hours and then I’m going home.

“What the hell did I get myself into?” I wondered aloud while preparing to go to J’s house for dinner. Nothing seemed to fit right. I forgot to look up directions to get there. Then I felt hot and changed clothes. Then I felt cold and changed clothes. Then I felt fat and changed clothes. Then I put on make-up and hated it. Then I took off the make-up and hated it. And these damn pimples! I’m too damn old to still be getting pimples! And why does my face have to look like this? And dear god, I’ve gained more weight than I thought. What if my breath stinks? My life is a complete fail. What was I thinking, accepting this invitation? I bet I’ll regret this.

I drove myself bonkers. And made myself late.

Since I was late & didn’t feel like ironing clothes, I decided on a new pair of skinny jeans even though I didn’t want to wear them. I forced myself to re-apply the make-up, checked my breath, put on my new coat & sneakers, and left the house. It was a cold but clear evening and, despite the anxiety, it was nice to get out of the house & see a different part of town. One of my unofficial resolutions for the year is to go out more now that I’m more settled into life in a new country, and anxious or not, I needed to do this. You can’t move forward if you don’t take the 1st step. Since I was running a little late, I high-tailed it to the bus to get to the train station. It was a pretty easy route despite weekend service disruptions. When I got to my destination, I called J to pick me up as planned; since she doesn’t drive, her niece drove while she & her oldest (I think) daughter went along for the ride. I anxiously awaited and wished myself luck.

To be continued…..

My sentiments exactly.
My sentiments exactly.

London Fashion (Faux Pas) Week.

I decided to take a short break from what I normally discuss to blog about fashion over here. I’m by no means a fashion expert. Trust me. 😐 So please take this with a grain of salt.

February 18-23 marked the arrival of London Fashion Week, a twice-yearly apparel trade show that takes place in February and September. While I’m not a fashion expert, I’ve known about the Big Four fashion weeks (New York City, London, Milan & Paris) for a very long time. The styles put forth range from structured & muted to colorful & unlimited; affordable to very expensive; made for regular chicks & chaps like me to made for socialites only. As I’ve gotten older, my appreciation for fashion has grown. I’ve mentioned this in past entries – practicing make-up application, dressing comfortable yet more feminine, looking to different & decent fashion blogs for help & inspiration, etc. So while I’m not a die-hard fashionista, nor do I go along with every single trend that comes out every few weeks (whoever created jeggings, revamped gaucho pants and pajama jeans should be slapped), I pay a little more attention to what’s “in” that’ll last a long time. In other words, I like seeing clothing that’ll last at least 1 generation – classic, so to speak, like the necessary little black dress for women that’ll never go out of style. Donna Karan, Chanel, Calvin Klein, and Ozwald Boateng are but a few designers who make timely, long-lasting, classic pieces. Of course, my salary doesn’t afford me the luxury of buying pieces from most of these designers, most of the time….. 😐 but hopefully you get what I’m saying.

With that said, it surprised me upon moving to this country that everything is not as it seems when it comes to fashion here. I’ll explain.

Before moving here, I visited twice over the past few years and, for the most part, admired (and still admire) the fashion sense here. I’d already known that this country is home to a major fashion world capital, as shown by the high streets being lined with designers ranging from Brooks Brothers to Burberry, as well as stores ranging from Topshop to John Lewis to Debenhams to the ultra-expensive-and-sometimes-gaudy Harrods. Moving here wouldn’t change that…..

Or so I thought.

Below you’ll find some proof that not everyone here shows the fashion sense that this fashion capital should exude worldwide.

Am I really that out of fashion? Has my eye for fashion gone blind again? Is this really what's hot & trendy today?
This must be Dis-United Weave/Wig-Dom instead of the United Kingdom because this is a very common sight around these parts.
Don't even know what to say about this. *shaking my head*
Come on son. --Ed Lover

Someone help me understand. Where’d London Fashion Week go wrong that these travesties occurred? What’s your signature style? What, if anything, would you improve about these folks’ fashion sense? Am I wrong for doing this?

Hot mess.

I don’t think I’m ugly at all, but I’m by no means a beauty queen. I’ll never be the main “character” in a music video. I’ll probably never be a rich man’s trophy. I’ll never win Miss America, Miss World or Miss Universe. Letting myself go makes me feel worse about these (possible) facts.

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Sweat pants, hair tied, chillin’ with no make-up on
That’s when you’re the prettiest, I hope that you don’t take it wrong…..

Drake – Best I Ever Had

Before.
Before.

I don’t think I’m ugly at all, but I’m by no means a beauty queen. I’ll never be the main “character” in a music video. I’ll probably never be a rich man’s trophy. I’ll never win Miss America, Miss World or Miss Universe. Letting myself go makes me feel worse about these (possible) facts.

As a little girl, I didn’t have much say over what to wear, so Mother Dear dressed me in pink & flowers & ribbons, oh my. 😐 Add to that the ritual of getting my hair done, and all of those things added together just gave me more to mess up when playing outside games & climbing trees. So the road to being a tomboy was pretty easy to find. Navigating that road got even easier by fashion trends of the day. A girl/young woman/woman could wear boyish clothing and not be automatically typecast as a particular type of lesbian. (Nowadays it seems the opposite – if one dresses in boyish clothing, it usually reflects one’s sexuality. This is a broad generalization only for the purposes of this entry, so please don’t take this personal.)

Fast forward to college, and though I still had some elements of boyishness about me, I dressed a little more like a girl (no) thanks to my then-boyfriend. His sister was a girly girl and always had guys milling about, so I guess he wanted me emulating her. As time went on, I had to learn how to come into my own.

Fast forward again and although I don’t prance around like the belle of the ball, I became a little more focused on better caring for myself – different forms of exercise (health is important to me), manicure & pedicure once every 1-2 months, hair done every 2-3 months, clothing with a more feminine edge, a little make-up from time to time, a little jewellery from time to time. I was more mindful of taking time out for my Self, pampering my Self on a small budget, so to speak. For those who know me well, I’ve never been a vain/shallow/superficial person even though I took better care of myself; therefore, my appearance is near the bottom of my list of priorities.

I got my hair done right before I moved overseas. I wanted it to last a long time (which it did) so that I’d have time to find a hair salon in this foreign land (which wasn’t hard but took some time). I remember getting a manicure & pedicure before moving over here; after all, it was summertime and dressing nicer was in full effect.

Summertime came and went. And I still hadn’t gotten a manicure or pedicure. Eagle’s claws would best describe my fingers & toes. 😐

In addition to work, I’d moved into my own flat, which came unfurnished. Although it’s nice enough that it doesn’t need a lot of furnishing, it’s still something that only I can do as I’m on my own. That meant more money toward furnishings and less disposable income. In addition, I still have financial obligations in the States along with new bills in this country, and a weak economy that weakens all worldwide currencies makes keeping those obligations even harder. Add to that the unexpected expenses that come with any major move, such as illness & prescriptions & customs taxes from shipping my goods and etc. (more entries about those things in the near future), and the last thing I worried about was how good I looked on any given day.

Then the brisk cold weather came. When it was warm, I walked all over the place. Call it an excuse, but cold weather doesn’t inspire me to walk. Gym memberships are not cheap in my area either. Although I don’t eat much, I didn’t move around as much as I did during the summer and….. I began to notice rolls & creases in different places. Clothing got a little tighter. I can’t go clothes shopping all willy-nilly with my financial obligations, so I returned to my tomboy days of wearing big clothes. The only thing that demonstrated that I wasn’t a boy is my long hair….. and with the new hair on my chinny-chin-chin, maybe the long hair didn’t help after all. 😐

All of this, coupled with the challenges of moving, makes me feel & look less than. I’m used to looking like a boy now and I don’t have enough energy to make myself look nice. Or maybe I’ve become complacent, who knows. I just know that I’ve given up.

I got my hair done a few days before going home, and it was a lucky shot because a new salon opened in my area and the prices are right. Besides that, I’m feeling low about my appearance (and a few other things). I’m gonna get a manicure/pedicure whilst at home, and I’ve set aside a little cash to go clothes shopping – shoes, boots, sneakers, jeans, pants, whatever it takes. Hopefully new clothing will have at least a small impact.

Epilogue: I’ve purchased some nice clothing and, thanks to myriad post-holiday sales & clothes being cheaper in the States, my pockets aren’t hurting as much as I thought they would. But even if my pockets took a hard hit, I’m happy that I can finally begin feeling better about myself. It’s about time I do something for myself; the corporations can wait for once.

How have others in my situation, especially those who have expatriated, handled it? How do you keep up appearances, if at all? How do you keep your spirits lifted, if at all? What are your cost-cutting strategies for keeping up your appearance?

Home is where the heart is.

I’m heading home for a few weeks and will be on a plane by
the time you get this. I have a few pending blog entries in my
Drafts folder; this week was busy so I couldn’t publish/finish them
in the time frame that I expected. Don’t worry though… I have
lots of material, and I’ll publish the
pending entries once I recover from jet-lag and my family (which
should take a few days). I didn’t want to leave everyone hanging
without saying something.

I’m looking forward to seeing close
family members & friends, observing the differences
& similarities between the 2 countries & cities,
and appreciating my hometown & my new town for what each
has to offer. I’m also looking forward to getting some necessary
rest because I’m burned out; I realized a few days ago that I
haven’t had a proper vacation since September
2009
. That’s a long time to
go without self-care and time off. This time at home came at the
perfect time, and I’m glad to head home for the holidays.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and happy holidays, no matter what you
celebrate (or don’t). To those of you travelling, I wish you a safe
journey to your destinations and a wonderful time when you get
there. Be mindful/careful and have fun. Relax, take a chill pill…
whatever you do, just enjoy.

Happy holidays.
Happy holidays.

New employee.

Despite still being under a jet-lagged stupor, it was time for work. Work in a new country, new neighborhood, and maybe new mindset.

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Despite still being under the influence of jet-lagged stupor, on July 5th it was time for work in a new country, new neighborhood, and maybe new mindset. My last day at my full-time job was June 8th; my part-time job’s end date was June 16th, so to many it seemed like a long vacation before returning to the world of work. That wasn’t the case.

Moving is not for the faint of heart & spirit. Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t relax, party, & dance in flowery pastures. Those last weeks before my departure were busy, nerve-wracking, and exhausting. There were goods that needed shipping, accounts to close, friendships in limbo, and a car sale….. and that was only the beginning. So despite the weeks that I was “off”, my feelings about returning to work were of excitement & exhaustion. I was, after all, still trying to catch up on sleep and get adjusted to the kinda big time difference.

Soon after my arrival, my friend helped me with learning different bus/train/tube routes. It was a bit confusing, but the fact that I’m from one of the biggest cities in the world gave me an edge over my other foreign colleagues, who don’t have the “privilege” of being from a large metropolitan area. Anyway, I found my way to the new job’s headquarters for human resources (HR) induction, where I’d learn about benefits, dress codes, and pay stubs oh my. Although it was boring, it was nice to learn that workers seem a little more valued here than they are back home. As an example, compared to home, my vacation leave at least doubled and began immediately. Paid sick leave began 1 month after my arrival and although it wasn’t much, there are plenty of Boxing Days to supplement that. Universal health coverage began for me immediately and prescriptions are at a fixed price; for those who have health insurance back home, it doesn’t kick in for an average of 3-6 months and the consumer is responsible for co-payments within the limits of different insurance providers. Those were just a few of the benefits that mattered to me the most.

Afterwards, I went to one of the major banks to sort out my account. (My experiences with the banks will come in another blog entry. Yes, it’s that serious.) My new supervisor & co-workers were waiting for me at what would be my new office building, so I caught the bus and headed there.

I took the correct bus, yet the bus driver told me that I was going the wrong way. As a result, I got off the bus earlier than I should have. I walked for a while (in what I realized was the correct direction) and came across a BP gas station, where I asked the attendants to point me in the correct direction. They claimed to not know the way to the neighborhood (liars), so I walked out while cursing under my breath. I kept walking and saw a police officer who helped me, and soon enough I was at the new job.

I dressed business casual in case there was a strict dress code since the organization is quite big and, therefore, dress codes differ from office to office & department to department. I went to the reception area, where my new supervisor met me and took me upstairs to the office. It delighted me to see, upon entering the office, that I could dress as casual as I liked (within reason of course). As a reformed tomboy-turned-lady (which I’ll address to a certain extent in a future entry), it was nice to know that I had a choice in what to wear. With the work that I do, sometimes it’s in my best interest to dress in a more relaxed manner.

After being introduced to my team, the supervisor met with me to give me a basic rundown of what to expect. (My now-former supervisor is Korean-American, which was nice because she understood the challenges with my move since she’s a fellow expatriate.) Because of my late arrival due to the HR induction, she could only cover but so much with me that day since I had another induction for the data entry system I’d be using for the job. You’ll be amused to know that I was so under jet-lag‘s influence that I nodded off during the data entry system induction. The IT person conducting it wasn’t boring, so to speak; I was just still exhausted. 😐 I knew I’d get further (day-long) training on the system anyway so my sleepiness didn’t waste the day.

As an aside, even though it concerned me how I’d get along with new co-workers/colleagues, I was slowly put at ease. Two of my new co-workers on my new team were on vacation, so I didn’t meet them until the following week; however, the team told me good things about them, including the fact that one in particular was a prankster. (The team were correct.) Overall, I figured that things would go well with the new team.

The data entry system induction finished and that ended my day. (NOTE: While I can’t remember every single day of work since moving here, I’ll continue to discuss work in a date-progressive, subject-centered fashion a bit – different topics related to my work, etc.)

I headed toward my friend’s house (I’ll refer to her as N from now on) and I can’t remember everything, but I probably went to the internet cafe near her house to check e-mail. I probably went back to the house afterwards, told her about the 1st day of work, and turned into Rip Van Winkle. 😐 Tomorrow would be a new day.