Thursday, September 30

London Bridge is falling down...falling down...falling down...

okay no it isn't.

but it's the first thing I think of when I hear the word London. Well that and Harry Potter. Whenever I say Harry Potter, I imagine Dumbledore or Snape saying "Haaaarry Pottaaah"in that voice. You know the voice, my fellow HP fans.

The next few days are going to be crazy. I just had my first day of school and I hoped that planning the perfect outfit would be my biggest challenge. I think not. I already have a project due tomorrow! I am hesitant to write too much about everything happening there. You know...privacy, my future career, and whatnot, but I will tell you this: We get a tea break everyday. for real. It's like recess for British adults.

I also found out my dissertation is due 3 days after my wedding. woops. (P.S. inquiring minds wanted to know what I wore on my first day. This is it. and sadly, no, this isn't our flat. I wish. We are staying with friends until ours is available.)

We are supposed to move in tomorrow, but we've had TWO realtors gone missing and a property already taken from under us, so I won't believe it until I pee in the toilet. (I'm sorry, that was a little crude of me. It's 11:20pm here and I'm tired and cranky, plus I like the soothing rhythm it provided). Rumor has it we won't have internet for the next few days. We've borrowed our friends super duper fancy mobile Internet USB stick, so I will do my best to post pictures of the flat once it's looking halfway decent.

Until then, please mind the gap (which, coincidentally, doesn't mean AT ALL what I thought it did. I always thought mind the gap was this completely enlightened theoretical phrase. Turns out, it means something akin to "don't fall in the crack between the subway and the platform"). In the meantime, some updates for you:

1. They weren't kidding when they said it rained here. Burberry isn't famous for its trench coats for no reason.
2. Yesterday I saw a man in drag shopping for fruit at a market. Oddly, I felt more at home. It was like being in downtown Boston.
3. Sean and I figured out how to sneak the system and get a US phone # here in the UK! For $50 a year, we bought a Boston phone number on when people call us, it calls Skype. We set up Skype to forward all calls to my cell phone...hence therefore, our friends and family call this 617 # and get my mobile in London. nifty eh? Gotta love the internet.
4. I love Cadbury chocolate more than life itself. It is a serious problem. Brits have a term, "the Heathrow Injection" meaning once you move to London, you gain a bunch of weight. Ummmm, at this point if you tried to poke a needle anywhere in me, I'm pretty sure milk chocolate would come pouring out by the buckets.
5. Girls still don't wear pants.

Cheers, mates! See you in our new flat!

Tuesday, September 28

The Cognitive Dissonance of Health Habits

whew. try saying that 3 times fast. Pretty impressive blog title eh? I think living in London has made me smarter and it's only been 4 days, imagine what I'll be like after a year. schwwwing!

I'll let you in on a little secret though, this past summer I worked at Harvard as a new teacher mentor for the Grad program and on my first day of training we had this very Harvard-esque, touchy feely, hold each others hands and explain your deepest innermost smart kid thoughts to one another type discussion. The director of the program posed the question if I ever felt a level of "cognitive dissonance" towards my ideals and my school's philosophy. In my head went something like this: ummmmmm, cognitive what? I KNEW all those beers I drank in college would come back to haunt me eventually. Okay everyone is looking at you. Hurry up. Sound smart. Say something. NOW. Out loud went something like this: Uhhh, yes.

Not my finest moment. However, cognitive dissonance has stuck with me since then (I went home and googled it, that's what google is for right?!) Just an FYI, it means: an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously.

I feel like London and the US are in a bit of cognitive dissonance when it comes to food and health. If you would please bear with me, I am about to go on a rant...

This move to London has made me realize how much I really value and appreciate my eating habits. I am somewhat of a picky eater (I know that all of my friends and families just made a collective snort, sigh, and eye roll at the word somewhat, but lucky for me it's my blog and I get creative license! haha). I've also spent a long time perfecting my food and health habits. After losing 45lbs and falling in love with running, I knew I'd never go back to my college lifestyle again (okay, occasionally the booze part, but definitely NOT the 2am pizza part). However, moving to a new country brings on a whole set of challenges, nevermind the food part of everything. I am in a total state of culture shock, doing my best to come up to speed on money, language, and where the heck to look when crossing the street (left? right? gah!) but to me, food is priority numero uno.

There is such a strange dichotomy happening. On the one hand, I have to say these Londoners are in fabulous shape. I think it has to do with all the walking (this city is H-U-G-E!!!!!!!). The majority of people here are in excellent shape and obesity doesn't seem to be a factor at all. I've been really excited to see the vast number of runners out on the streets. Runners are EVERYWHERE and gyms seem to be on almost every block. However, with that being said, I've also noticed way more people smoking, especially women. There is also an obscene amount of fried chicken places around London...we met a girl out at the bar last weekend and one of the first things she said to us was that we had to try the fried chicken at this one place. I don't get it. It seems like such a contradiction to me.

Being the Finicky Fran that I am, not having a permanent place to say these past few days has been rough on Sean and I. Luckily, we moved in with Sean's friends for the last couple days. They live 2 streets away from us, so we are happy to be in our new neighborhood and getting used to things. We ventured out tonight to what will be our new supermarket and were SO pleasantly surprised by what we found.

That, my friends, is a loaf of Wholegrain, Oat, and Barley bread for 75 pence ($1.15). Ummmm what!? Wholewheat, FRESH bread for that price?! HALLELUJAH! I dare you to find freshly baked multigrain bread in the States for less than that! You can't.

Even cooler? They had a slicing machine where you could slice your own bread!

We ended up with an amazing, healthy, NATURAL meal for the both of us for 11 pounds (that's $17). We bought 2 containers of vegetable soup, loaf of bread, a giant carrot (FOR 10 pence thankyouverymuch), a bag of brussel sprouts (for 1 pound ifreakingloveUKgrocerystores), goat cheese, and a bottle of wine! (Of course. Do you even doubt that I'd have wine?!)
mmmmmmm. Brussel sprouts. Call me crazy but these puppies are delicious with some olive oil, garlic, and sea salt.

So Sean and I like our goat cheese drowing in honey. Don't hate.

vegetables! I love you. I miss you. I'll never leave you for this long again.

Sorry for the blurry-ness of this picture. Let's blame it on my new "mobile" rather than the fact I had 2 glasses of wine before taking it ;)

I cannot express to you the happiness I feel right now, actually, I think the more appropriate word would be content. I hope this first trip to the grocery store signals many more fabulous shopping and food adventures to come here in the UK. Despite the intense smoking habits and unfortunate fried chicken obsessions, London is definitely ahead of the curve. Case in point:

Stylist, a free British magazine given out around the city, has a section called Elsewhere Around the World. Want to know what America was mentioned for? The acheivement of deep frying beer. Really?! Way to go us, we've figured out how to deep fry something else. As if the twinkies, Oreos, turkey, and everything wasn't enough? One time, at a country fair in Georgia, I'm pretty sure I saw a woman deep fry her husband because he talked back to her. Call it what you will, slanted journalism, stereotyping cultures, but the truth is still evident. We are famous for deep frying shit. literally.

In any case, for the first time in about a month, I feel like myself again. I went for a 5 mile run and had a wonderful dinner. I am sooooo looking forward to moving into our flat so my spinach filled protein shakes can resume as usual. Don't you worry though, I'll be sure to work the Cadbury chocolate into my diet regimen.

Sunday, September 26

Hellooooo London! Cheerio!

We've only been in London for 2 days now and loving every minute of it! We are tired and a bit overwhelmed, temporarily living out of suitcases and getting accustomed to so many new customs. I am learning quite a lot and school hasn't even started yet. Did you know British currency has something like 8 different coins?!

A few things I've learned so far:
1. Girls do not wear pants
. Seriously. It is like wading through a sea of leggings and Lindsay Lohans. At one point yesterday, Sean looked around and remarked, "You're going to learn to love leggings I think". I'm scared. What's a girl to do?

2. The food is absolute shit. Sorry for the swear Mom (or should I say Mum?) but it is true. However, what they lack for in main courses they make up for in desserts and chocolate. Ladies and Gentleman, I enter Exhibit A:
To. Die. For. Sean got me hooked on European Cadbury chocolate when he was living in Dublin. He'd bring some home in his suitcase on visits and hide it on me until I was particularly grumpy or moody and he'd whip it out in a feat of heroism. It always worked. I don't know why this chocolate is so superior but it puts Hershey to shame. It is so rich and creamy and milk chocolatey delicious.

Exhibit B comes from our first dinner in London last night: Aren't I an awesome food blogger? That's all you're going to get so please use your imagination. It was "Apple Fritelli with Amaretto Ice Cream", basically cinnamon sugar coated donut hole goodness with apple jelly and Amaretto flavored ice cream. I think I inhaled it so quickly cinnamon sugar went up my nose at one point.

My diet is definitely going to change while I'm here. I think instead of eating dinners of British food I don't really like, I'm just going to skip straight to dessert. Chocolate mousse for an appetizer followed by a main course of strawberry cheesecake with a brownie on the side? okay! I could always go eat here if I get really desperate:
Do you know I've never eaten KFC before? Or Taco Bell? How ironic would it be if I moved to a foreign country only to develop an obsession with greasy, disgusting, American fast food. hmmmm......I think not. I won't lie though; it did smell pretty fantastic when we walked by late last night.

3. Japanese girls love Mr. Bean. When we were walking near Trafalgar Square yesterday, we saw a huge crowd of Japanese tourists freaking out and waving frantically at someone. It turns out Mr. Bean is filming his latest movie and we had walked next to the set. I've never watched any of his movies, so I wasn't nearly as excited as these girls were; now if Jude Law happened to stumble across my path, well, that's a different story.

In other news, we got to move into our new flat early!!! Here's a picture of the outside:
Juuuuuust kidding. That's Buckingham Palace and someone already lives there. Not to mention the rent cost is astronomical. A girl can dream though right?

Taking pictures in a new place is always so funny. Everything is exciting and photo worthy and its remarkable how many pictures of buildings you will take. I have over 100 photos from this weekend and I'd say 90 percent of them are of buildings around London. Why? Am I going to frame them? Is there a large architectural following out there who are dying to see them? I'm not sure, but here a few of the better ones. I'm going to go so I can take off my pants and eat chocolate. Maybe these Londoners are onto something...

Wednesday, September 22

SPAM comments

Hey guys and gals-

I've somehow picked up a spammer who is flooding all of my entries trying to hock their useless crapola. Needless to say I am not a happy camper. I feel like my blog has become an alley off 5th Avenue where people come to sell Folex watches and Chanelo bags.

For the time being, I am moderating all comments and requiring you to put in those super lame codes before you can comment. Now I know I've never had a huge comment base to begin with, but just in case you decided: TODAY IS THE DAY! I WILL COMMENT ON MARIE'S AWESOME BLOG! I don't want you to be scared away...please take the extra step and I promise I'll make it worth your while (ooo that was kinda dirty, sorry Mom and Dad, I didn't mean that)


Tuesday, September 21

Running and blogging: a metaphor

Remember that time I ran really far?

Remember when running and I had a lover's quarrel, I broke up with it for awhile and then we reconnected?

It was along that 3 mile trail that I found myself again, so it only seemed fitting that my last run in Boston be along the same trail.

While I was running, my blog was on my mind. Over the weekend, Quarterlife Quandary was featured on the front homepage of . It was an amazing opportunity that I am so grateful for; my statistics and "blog hits" were off the charts. I went from having less than 100 a day to over 700. So you can imagine my disappointment and frustration when yesterday rolled around and the hits went from the weekend deluge back to their normal slow trickle.

One of the reasons I love running is because it's fantastically cathartic; I work out so many issues as my feet pound the pavement. My wallet and waistline are grateful as well. Sometimes, I swear the macaroni and cheese hides from me when it sees me coming because it knows it's about to meet its ultimate demise.

As I made my way long the path, I thought about a run I went on last week.

When I set out along the path, snaking my way along the water, I spotted a guy in bright yellow shorts running 100 yards ahead of me. Immediately I decided I wanted to catch him. There is something about running that turns this nice quiet girl into this competitive sweaty beast on a mission (okay that is a bit of a stretch, I'm not really known for being quiet, but to be honest I'm not really known for being particularly sweaty or beasty either- at least I hope not)

Tried as I might, I could not catch him. I looked down at my Garmin at one point and realized I was at a 7:15 pace and I was only in the first mile. There was NO way I could keep that pace up for the 5 mile run I had planned, I'd be found dead on a park bench before that would happen (The headline would read: Extremely red-faced, overly sweaty, yet still dashingly beautiful girl found passed out from exhaustion on park bench wearing awesome hot pink shoes. What are you laughing at? It would). As he rounded the corner and those yellow shorts sped out of sight, I had a decision to make. Was I completing his run or my own?

I took a breath and slowed down, this was my run and no one else's. If I spent all my time chasing someone else's goals, where would I be? The parallel between this situation and my blog suddenly dawned on blog is mine and no one else's. I write what I want and it makes me happy. When I started this blog it wasn't to have 700 hits a day, it was to strengthen my writing and allow me to express myself and I temporarily lost sight of that. As I obsessively checked my stats this weekend, I was chasing the yellow shorts again. (it was baaaaad. like every 10 minutes, no actually like every 2 minutes if we are being honest here...I may or may not have woken up at 4 am just to check the stats )

So I am stopping myself. I'll get there slowly. I didn't wake up one morning and happen to run 13 miles, just like I won't wake up tomorrow and have 700 blog hits. It's a process and it takes time and work and really, what does it matter anyway? The guy in yellow shorts will never care about my PRs and distance records and there aren't usually fans on the sidelines cheering me on during my training runs. (wouldn't that be fantastic though? a group of eager beavers just screaming my name?!) But that hasn't stopped me yet. In fact, yesterday I ran my best 5k time I've ever had:

Now, unfortunately, the immature part of myself wants to find yellow shorts guy and shout "dude, let's go! I'll beat you this time!" but that would totally defeat the point of this whole post now wouldn't it?

* sigh * I guess change takes time.

Sunday, September 19

The beginning of goodbyes

I once asked a friend what would stop them from doing the same thing I am (quitting my job and moving to a new country I've never been to)...and the answer was so honest and raw, it struck a chord with me. The reason? Fear. This resonated so deeply with me because it is how I've felt this entire process. Usually the comments from people who hear our plans are "That's so awesome" or "I'm so jealous" and I blush and profess that, trust us, it's a lot crazier than they think. That it's nothing to boast about. and I'm not sure why I do that. Why can't I just look them in the eye, nod my head confidently and say, "Thank you"? Now, as the calendar days are counting down and the one marked with a big red circle is fastly approaching, I find myself incredibly overwhelmed with a flurry of emotions. I am nervous, excited, anxious, and happy all at the same time.

Most of all, I am scared.

Beneath all of my decisions about London, fear has been the current, guiding me with its ebbs and flows. Sometimes it's so great it overtakes me and paralyzes me (usually around 2 am when the noise of daily life quiets down and my own thoughts are screaming). Other times, it's more subtle and casual, gentling greeting me like an old friend. Fear motivates and moves us, sometimes without us even realizing it. I was afraid I'd be stuck in a job I didn't like just because I happened to be good at it. I feared I'd look back on my life and realize I did too much sitting on the sidelines and not enough jumping into the game. I feared that by always taking the safe road, I wasn't on a journey towards becoming the best version of myself, that I was missing out on who I could be. Fear. It is a strange and mysterious thing.

but I am so thankful for it.

In 4 days, I will be making the 8 hour flight from Boston, MA to London, UK and it's going to be a dousy. As I cross over the Atlantic Ocean, I will be quietly ending one chapter of my life and begin writing the next. I know there will be tears and frustrations. I am sure I will get lost at least a million times in my new city and I'll never learn to like bangers and mash...but it will be an adventure. It is going to shape me and mold me in ways I never thought possible. I am going to meet new people who each have a tale to tell and a lesson to teach me, I will have the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful places this Earth has to offer, I will soak in new cultures and the nuances and niceties that come along with it and I get to do it all with my best friend. Now that's not so scary. Eventually, my fear will shift and change as I do, making me more confident, more resilient and more motivated than ever, so when I come home next time and someone says to me "Wow, how great you are doing that", I will politely nod and smile and think to myself "You're damn right it is".

Last night was our going away party and it was only the beginning in a string of goodbyes this week, but it marked a turning point for me. I woke up yesterday morning with a knot in my stomach, saying goodbye is always so bittersweet and I was somewhat dreading my own going away dinner. Yet, as we gathered around the dinner table with 25 of our closest friends and family, I couldn't help but be happy. The outpouring of love and support is exactly how I want our adventure to begin. Thank you so much to everyone for the cards, comments and well wishes. I'll be sure to be thinking of you when I'm having tea and crumpets with the Queen.

Friday, September 17

The Best of British

Today's post is brought to you by:

This weekend is a crazy one. I am going to get my last hit of crack, aka Berryline, today then Sean and I are going to see The Town in the spirit of Boston pride and tomorrow is our going away party! Sunday I imagine I will be laying in bed praying for the sweet release from my hangover only death can provide.

In honor of our impending move across the pond, here are some of my favorite new vocabulary words I am learning from our book, The Best of British: The American's Guide to Speaking British.

Arseholed- Drunk! Usually in the advanced stages of drunken stupor, someone would be considered "completely arseholed". Never me, of course.

Bob's your uncle- This is a well used phrase. It is added to the end of sentences a bit like "and that's it!" For example, Marie is awesome. Everyone is going to miss her a lot when she moves to London but they'll be sure to send her lots of presents and before you know it she'll be home and Bob's your uncle!

Cock up- a cock up means you made a mistake. It has nothing to do with the male anatomy so get your mind out of the gutter kids. tsk. tsk.

Cockney rhyming slang- There are lots of words that make up cockney rhyming slang. These are basically rhyming words like "butcher's hook" which means "look" I fyou are in London and you hear someone talking about a Septic, they are probably talking about you- because it's short for Septic Tank which equals Yank- which is British for American. ummm....this whole thing seems like it could be a) a lot of fun or b) really hard to decode. I bet Eminem would do great in London.

Crikey- Another exclamation of surprise. Between blast, blimey, bloody, and crikey, it seems these Brits get surprised quite easily. I am definitely going to make an effort to yell "CRIKEY!" whenever someone walks into the room and act like I was surprised.

Dog's Bollocks- You would say that something really fantastic was the dog's bollocks. I'm really glad I learned this one ahead of time. I'd probably punch a girl in the face if she walked up to me and said "wow you're really looking like the dog's bollocks today!"

Nancy boy- If someone is being pathetic you would call them a nancy boy. It is the opposite of being hard and tough. Soooo, the American version of this would be metrosexuals? or Justin Beiber? I get it.

On the Job- if you are on the job, it could mean you are hard at work. or having sex. Ha! Be careful not to mix these ones up or that could make for a very awkward job interview.

Pavement Pizza- a descriptive way of saying vomit. hahahaha. Okay, I've gotta hand it to them at this point, English people are hilarious.

Sweet Fanny Adams- this means nothing. I think they are trying to trick me. People really use these terms? Again, hilarious I tell you.

I think when I go out today, I am going to start incorporating them into my daily vernacular. We'll see how well received I am when I tell some Nancy Boy that I think his skinny jeans are the Dog's Bollocks. Sweet Fanny Adams, it'll be a jolly good time.

Tuesday, September 14

I'm a bad blogger

I could say absence makes the heart grow fonder...and that my sporadic posting (and by sporadic, I mean complete lack thereof) the past few days was part of my grand scheme to make you fall in love with me and Quarterlife Quandary all over again...but that's just simply untrue.

I am a bad blogger lately and I am going to continue to be one this evening. BUUUUTTTT...But I have a good excuse. They say having a baby puts a big strain on relationships. Well, Sean and I are having a baby. A "we are moving to London and our realtor is a scumbag so our flat fell through and now we will be homeless and I own too many clothes and have no conceivable way of packing them into a few suitcases" baby. It's a girl.

Editor's note: Please make sure you read that entire paragraph very carefully. In fact, please go back and read it again just to make sure you fully understand my point. We aren't actually having a baby. It's a metaphorical baby. The only baby I will be having is the beer baby my stomach is developing due to the massive amounts of Shipyard Pumpkin Ale I've been consuming.

Right now, this is what I'm dealing with:
and this is just the tip of the iceberg. I can't post any more pictures of my apartment right now or you'd probably stop being my friend forever. Or you'd report Sean and I to Social Services for cruelty against ourselves. Mom- I'm sorry you even have to see this picture. It is very difficult to pack my entire wardrobe into these three suitcases, so instead I've settled on throwing all the clothes into the corner and hoping they'll pack themselves.

So I am going to be the lazy blogger and let you enjoy some pictures Sean and I took yesterday. We spent the day walking around the city, taking in our favorite neighborhoods and saying goodbye to Boston. Keep your fingers crossed Sean and I get a new flat quickly otherwise I will be absent from this blog even LONGER because I'll be flying across the Atlantic a week early to price out fancy cardboard boxes along the Thames for us to live in.

Items of note:
1. Did you notice my wardrobe change halfway thru? This is what happens to me. I buy things and have an immediate need to put them on. Sean and I found this amazing vintage store at the SOWA Market yesterday and I found that fabulous tan sweater for $35! Only thing better than that is the $25 haircut I got. Therefore, I needed to put it on at once. Plus, I really really liked it.

2. If you aren't from the Boston area, Regina's Pizza is my homeboy. I love that place so freaking much. This is also why I could never be a food blogger. I like greasy cheesy pizza way too much. Same goes for beer.

3. Sean is the great photographer behind most of these. Thanks for the new Facebook profile picture boo!
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