A few of my favourite things
The lovely Mumzilla came up with the A Few of My Favourite Things challenge, where you talk about…well, a few of your favourite things. I thought, “This is a great idea! I’m sure I have lots of things that I love,” but it was actually really hard. My tiny flat is full of a lot of s**t, but it turns out that I’m not really that fond of most of it.
I could have written about the things that I use most – my phone, iPad and laptop. I spend big chunks of the day staring at their screens and poking at them, but I didn’t want to write a post about how much I love the internet, because we all love the internet. If you’re reading this, you’re on the internet RIGHT NOW and probably will be long after you read this post, because there’s no escaping the pull of the digital world, with its cat videos and hashtags and “You’re never going to believe what happened next” links.
So I decided that rather than writing about things that I use a lot, I’d write about things that I love despite not using them a lot. If I lost these things, I wouldn’t notice their absence on a day-to-day basis, but I’d feel the loss more deeply than if I lost my phone.*
- My signed copy of “Me Talk Pretty One Day” by David Sedaris.
This book changed my life.
I read it as part of a living writers course in college and thought, “Wait…you can write short, humorous, personal non-fiction essays and get paid for it? That’s what I want to do!”
That isn’t what I do. Not for a job, anyway – but this book defined a dream that I didn’t even know I had.
Sedaris came to speak to our class and afterwards signed my book, “To a patriot in Pennsylvania” because I was wearing a red turtleneck and blue jeans. I lent this book to my brother, who lent it to his girlfriend, who later broke up with him and kept the book. I bought another copy at one of Sedaris’ readings in Edinburgh a few years ago and very awkwardly told him that he’d signed a copy of the book for me 10 years ago. He signed my new book, “We meet again, Enchantress.”
I swooned a bit even though he’s a middle-aged gay man, because come on – how often does your literary hero call you Enchantress?
- My Long Aye-lander In Glasgow book
I didn’t always blog about parenting (obviously, given that I’ve had a baby for less than a year). Back in the early days of blogging, before Twitter and linkys and Klout and #tribesters, I had another blog. It was called Long Aye-lander in Glasgow, and it was about finding my feet as a foreigner in Scotland’s biggest city.
I got some great experiences out of this blog. I got to speak on the radio (briefly and awkwardly) about immigration. I got to write a newspaper column about what it was like to be an American in Glasgow. I connected with loads of other expats in Scotland and around the world. But after a few years, I felt like I was running out of things to say. I was pretty settled in Scotland and didn’t feel like I could keep up the whole fish-out-of-water thing anymore. In 2009, I shut down the blog but saved an offline version so I wouldn’t lose the content.
A few years ago, my husband used this offline version to create a book of some of his favourite posts and gave it to me for Christmas. It’s great to be able to read blog posts I wrote 10 years ago, when I was a much younger and more ridiculous person.
This is one of my favourites.
Is There Chicken In It? (5 February 2007)
This exchange, which took place at my local Costcutter, is one of the funniest things I’ve heard all weekend.
Crazy old man: (Puts a tin of tuna, a steak pie and a readymade beef meal on the counter and points to the steak pie) Hey, do you know where this is from?
Woman at the till: No, I’m not sure.
Crazy old man: Is there chicken in it?
Woman at the till: Umm…it says steak.
Crazy old man: Yeah, but is there chicken in it?
Woman at the till: I don’t think so.
Crazy old man: (Points to the beef meal) What about this? Does this have chicken in it?
Woman at the till: That says beef.
Crazy old man: I just don’t want to get that bird flu. (Points to my box of cereal) There’s no chicken in that! (Laughs crazily)
Me: I’d certainly hope not.
Crazy old man: So no chicken then?
Woman at the till: No, no chicken.
Crazy old man: Great. Can I get four cans of Stella?
- Posing owl
Adrian and I spent our honeymoon in Volterra, a little town in Tuscany. It was raining when we got there, so we stopped in the Etruscan museum to have a look around. I don’t care much about Etruscan art, but I loved this little owl in the gift shop because of his very un owl-like pose. It looks like he feels just FABULOUS. When I look at him, I just want to throw my hands wide and yell, “Ta-da!”
What a jazzy little bird. I adore him.
- My races hat
When I lived in Chester, I decided that I needed to go to the Chester Races – not because I had any interest in horse racing or betting, but because I wanted an excuse to wear a fancy hat.
Besides weddings, there aren’t many occasions that are hat-appropriate these days. If I thought I could get away with it, I’d wear a pretty hat all the time. I’d be that mother at toddler group wearing an organza headpiece while singing, “The Grand Old Duke of York.”
I’ve only worn this hat twice – one at the races (which turned out to be a pretty terrible event where people get wildly drunk and gamble away their savings, but think it’s okay because they’re dressed all fancy) and once for my brother-in-law’s wedding. But who knows – I may be tempted to bust it out for Bounce and Rhyme next week.
- Oh, the places we’ve been
I made this word collage for Adrian to celebrate us being together for 10 years. It lists every place that we had travelled together during that decade.
The collage includes all the big, important places: where we met (St Andrews), where we got engaged (Vienna), where we made a home together (Glasgow) and where we went on our honeymoon (Volterra). It also includes places like Callander, where we randomly spent a night watching Eurovision while having cheese and wine in the room of our B&B, and Blair Atholl, which we visited at the last minute because it was snowing and we knew it would look beautiful.
Travelling has been such a big part of our relationship. It’s a lot harder now that we have a baby, but I’m not ready to give it up. We just need to adjust our expectations. And carry loads of crap. And plan our days around the baby’s naps. And pack lots of snacks.
Never underestimate the power of a well-timed rice cake.
*This probably isn’t true, because my phone is pretty much a permanent part of my hand now.