Monday, 28 November 2011

And we invented the cat

Today, not only did I see something very American (our state bird), but I also received something very British in the post:

Genuine Cadbury chocolate from the UK!

My wonderful friend Jen sent me a care package, via a supplier in PA, containing so much proper chocolate deliciousness (i.e. from Britain - the link here also explains the title of this post) that I should be set up until January*. Add to that the Cadbury advent calendar that the gorgeous Miss Lawson sent me last week, and I am one happy camper.


* This should not deter people from sending more. One Fruit & Nut bar has already met its fate. 

An bird!

Today, while getting Ender prepared for a bath, we saw a cardinal perched in the tree, level with our balcony. This time (as I've missed the opportunity to get a good shot several times before now), I managed to snap him!




Cardinals are the NC state bird, and are year-round residents here. They also have very beautiful songs. This one appeared interested in the autofocus beeping noise my camera made! The males are obviously the very brightly coloured members of the species, while the females only have red on their crests, wings, and tails. 

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Of all the things I know for sure

I am currently sat in my pyjamas, avoiding both work (online research for the studio) and the gym, listening to our wedding ceremony music and daydreaming. I make no apologies. I am very, very happy because, in one week, I get to marry the love of my life. We are getting married in seven days; we will be married this time next week. No amount of font styling can express my excitement, and I sincerely doubt my effort with words will be any more successful, but I'll give it a go.

It feels like Christmas, but Christmas when you were a kid, and better than that, really. Wow, I am so eloquent sometimes! There's a wildly free feeling of being excited because it's new and unknown, but also a warmth and certainty because it is known and exactly what you want. A wedding is just a very small part of the whole relationship, of course, and wouldn't be happening without the fundamental bond between the two getting married. And then there's the utterly overwhelming love that underlies, accents, fills everything, and so the wedding itself is just a very small representation of that. But oh! I am so, so excited to marry Ben.

We spent yesterday evening, after a day of working on papers (Ben) and editing photos (me), sat at the Wine Vault, deciding on drinks for our evening reception, chatting over a delicious bottle of  Aussie Shiraz (a lucky pick that happened because of me finding the name funny ("Boxhead" - I'm a child), and Ben wanting a heavier red to drink that night), and just being. One of the most wonderful things about being with Ben is that just being with him is something I always look forward to. Whether we're nattering over a tasty glass of something, watching a film, walking, cooking, doing our own thing in the same room, bickering about who is right about colour coordination, laughing at the dog farting at an alarming rate, listening to music, eating dinner... It doesn't matter, and all of it is brilliant. The everyday becomes special, and not in a trite "oh my goodness, the world is all pink and rosy" pre-packaged romance kind of way, but simply because he makes me so happy, and the space we share is joyful because we get to be together.

There is no way I'll be able to do much better than that to explain or try to record how I'm feeling right now. We talked a bit last night about whether the wedding itself would make much of a difference to us. Neither of us think so, in the emotional sense at least: we already feel married. We are bonded for life, with or without the ceremony. But I know for sure that this will be a big thing for me, even if it changes nothing. Perhaps that is how a wedding should be: an added extra, something that is done to celebrate a love that doesn't need a formal, legal process to secure it or improve it, but that can have a formal process because it is so wonderful that it seems silly not to celebrate it ceremonially.

That's actually just hit the nail on the logical and emotional head for me: I've been wondering why it does seem a big deal to me, when I am already so secure and happy with Ben. It's because I am so secure and happy with Ben, filled with joy and love I didn't know (or believe) were possible, that being so lucky as to be able to celebrate that... I didn't think that would ever happen, and I am ridiculously fortunate to be able to be with - formally and informally - the one man I know I can and will love forever, and will love me back the same way.

Now I really am beyond words.



Thursday, 24 November 2011

Bang! And the reference is irrelevant

And now, for your viewing pleasure (?!), here is a video of me and Ben engaging in some post-Thanksgiving banter and G&T making. I cannot wait to marry this man. 9 days!




For those of you unfamiliar with the advertising genius that is Cillit Bang's Barry Scott, please see here for what I'm talking about. Billy Mays is apparently the US equivalent.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving


Hand turkey!
Today was my first Thanksgiving, ever, not to mention ever with Ben and his family. It was wonderful! We had such a fantastic day. It's much like Christmas in the sense that family come together to spend time with one another and appreciate a break in the go-go-go of everyday life. Having really enjoyed today and seen the celebration first-hand, it seems kind of a shame that we don't do this back in the UK, because it really does give you a pause before the mania of the Christmas season (not to mention wedding week, for us right now!).


I am so glad that these went down well! 
Ben and I spent the morning baking (everyone was bringing different things to my mother-in-law's sister's place, Ben's aunt Patti), and both of us decided to make a favourite dessert. I chose to make ginger biscuits, from an old recipe that I cooked way back when I was a youngish teenager (yes, I liked to bake; yes that, amongst other things, made me a super-cool teen), and that I hadn't made since that point in time. They turned out pretty well, considering! We bought ingredients and kitchen scales over the course of the last week (I measure in grams or ounces, not in cups, so that could have been annoying!), so we were all set to bake until it was time to leave. Ben went first, making his pumpkin bars (a pumpkin cake to start with, for all intents and purposes, and then icing is added and the cake is sliced into bars - recipe below and here!) and leaving them to cool, and then I started on the ginger biscuits. Before I go any further, I will just make it clear that "biscuits" in UK English means "cookies" in US English (a "biscuit" in the States is basically a scone, but more buttery and equally, if not more, delicious!), and these particular biscuits are more like Ginger Nuts (UK) or Ginger Snaps (US) in terms of brand. So we'll refer to them as ginger biscuits, because I am being stubbornly English (seeing as the recipe is from an old cook book of my Mum's called 'Farmhouse Kitchen', and provided by a nice lady from Yorkshire, I see no problem with my patriotism in this instance) but I essentially mean Ginger Snaps if any Americans are confused by the whole "biscuits" thing. So I mixed the ingredients up (especially pleased about finding Lyle's Golden Syrup here, as I wasn't sure I would), and got baking. It's a simple recipe, but the first batch of biscuits seemed a bit too crispy, so I made the balls of mixture a bit bigger, and reduced the cooking time to 18 minutes, and that seemed to solve it. This makes them chewy and crunchy and the same time and, according to my M.I.L., an wonderful partner for a cup of coffee!

Ben made his pumpkin bar icing - which is devilishly good - as I went for the second, third, and fourth batch of biscuits (the mixture makes between 30 and 40), and pretty soon, we were all set. After a quick shower, we were on our way over to Patti and Rex's place for food, chatter, and general chill out time with the family. It was absolutely lovely; Ben's family are very welcoming and loving, they are great fun to be with, and make an effort to make me feel part of things from the word go. On top of that, the food was amazing! The traditional meat is turkey, and then there's the veg (green bean and broccoli bakes; roasted butternut squash; potato cakes), and general deliciousness of devilled eggs and macaroni cheese. For dessert, we had a choice of pecan pie, coconut cake, chocolate cake, stewed apple, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin bars, and ginger biscuits. So now, I hope you will excuse me while I slip into something with a more elasticated waistband...


Recipe for pumpkin bars

Recipe for ginger biscuits

Monday, 21 November 2011

Internship

Two weeks ago, I started my photography internship with the delightful Jim McGuire of Studio1212. I cannot really begin to describe the plethora of emotions that swamped me before and after the first day, as a combination of so many new things (people, place, public transport, job role) meant that I was feeling pretty hyper for that whole Tuesday, until I got home and experienced a crash of equal magnitude.

Walking to the transit centre
Suffice it to say that I am having a wonderful time: I am being challenged, having fun, doing what I love. I've met some fantastic new people, and learned a hell of a lot already. On the first day, I also decided I was going to catch the bus home, which meant walking from E. 10th Street (the studio), through uptown to the transit centre, catching the bus to University City Blvd., and then walking a mile or so back to the apartment. I did it! And I had a lovely walk too, as it was a gorgeous day. So by the time I got in, I felt like I knew the city better, and I felt more free to move around it via bus and on foot. This is also where the friendliness of people here comes in handy: I was taking a few pictures of the buildings in uptown on my way to catch the bus, and a lady walking past in the opposite direction stopped, and started up a conversation with me. She wanted to tell me where I could go to get the best photos of the cityscape at night, when it is particularly beautiful. This also gave me the opportunity to check that I was going in the right direction for the transit centre (should I have wished to), which, while I didn't need to ask that, reassured me that I can stop and ask people for help and they won't just respond, they'll often be nice about it, too.

The photography aspect of this experience, which is of course supposed to be the main element (!), has so far been fabulous. There is one other intern, Kate, at the studio and she's been there about a month longer than me, so she has been very kindly showing me the ropes. We go in Tues-Thurs each week, 10-3, and then doing our own work outside of that. Every day we're helping out with different things, be it setting up the studio, helping with lighting for head shots, going on location for a website portfolio shoot, to name a few. We also have ongoing projects, both photographic and for business, including a weekly shoot theme (so far we have done sunlight and artificial light) where we have to produce at least 10 images using a particular medium or style; research local photographers and their use of the web to promote their business; and to ensure we have our own websites to showcase our own work.

Sunlight
Sunlight 
Artificial light
Practice in the studio
Studio fun with Kate and Jim

The above shots are examples of some of the work I've been doing (including a great shot of Kate and Jim when we were messing about with strobes!). The rest can be seen on the MOL Facebook page, should you be interested in having a look.

Next week will be a quiet one, as it's Thanksgiving and are only going into the studio on Tuesday. The week after will be too, as that's the week my family arrive here and it's all systems go for our wedding weekend. Oh my goodness! I can't believe that's come around so quickly. But, in between that and Christmas, and hopefully for a good portion of January too, we will continue to work with Jim, be taught by him and learn by observation, and have the very privileged position of being able to borrow his equipment sometimes. I can hardly believe I'm spending my days (not just evenings and weekends when I can fit it in!) taking, editing, and publishing photos as my sort-of-job. I feel ridiculously lucky for that, and on top of this, the fact that this particular starting point at Studio1212 couldn't be a better one, for so many reasons. It's just marvellous.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Subtlety and Cadbury's

As I'm averaging about one post a week, I think a brief reflection on cultural shift at this point wouldn't be unwelcome. Yes, there's plenty of wedding stuff I could ramble on about but essentially a) I am not a very girly girl and b) the things I might chatter about are pretty much what you might expect from anyone about to get married to their life's love, regardless of country or emigration experiences.

Perhaps that's a bit cold, a bit casual. Maybe I am avoiding such a post because it will, yet again, render me without words due to the simple and ultimate power of my feelings for the man who is almost my husband, much as I may want to attempt it. But perhaps it's more to do with the fact that I had a conversation tonight with the aforementioned wonderful man of mine, and we decided that, after reflecting on a conversation with my best friend back home that I'd had today, this title and topic would make a far better post than more nuptial neuroses.

Today, I spent an hour or so chatting on Skype with Joy. Amongst the other things we talked about, once general catch up on life, men, work, and so on had been discussed, the inevitable question of, "What do you miss most?" came up. The answer to this is simple enough: people. I miss my family, and I miss my friends. But that is to be expected, and cannot be remedied as such, only born, so doesn't make for much of a conversation - or blog post! So what else?

That answer came easily, too: I miss English social norms, and in a way I never expected. I often find myself overwhelmed by the simplest of differences between the Brits and the Yanks: Americans talk. A lot. About everything. And are very, very friendly - but not always in a way that actually means anything.

With Brits, you have to work at getting to know people, or rather, for a person to want to open up to you. They won't tell you things about their life, work, or even their day, without a little encouragement if you don't know them that well. On top of that, the phrases used often aren't to be taken literally. "It was quite good" usually means "it wasn't very good at all", or "I've seen better", for example. Once you do know a person well enough to have a more detailed chat, you still have to be specific about wanting to know how things are going, and can expect a summary response - you won't be regaled with a novel-sized tale of their experiences since they saw you last. Not that Americans do that, exactly, and obviously when I say "Americans", I am talking about the small percentage that I have met that I don't know very well (it's less strange when your friends or family are talkative and sharing with you; I am referring to people I have only met once or twice), so it's not representative of the whole country, as far as I know.

But Brits and Yanks are significantly different when talking. In turn of phrase, in volume, in sheer amount of talking done. People also seem to talk across each other more, and use pronouns in a way that might offend an English person (who is "she", the cat's mother?!). So, the thing I am missing the most when I go out is just feeling like I fit in. While I am happy to talk, I won't shout over people, and I won't push to get my voice heard. I also don't feel the need to say things I haven't been asked about, to try to turn the topic of conversation, or just add in some random waffle because I can.

On the flip-side of this coin, I do enjoy how friendly Americans appear to be. I've often said I'm a bit too cheerful about getting to know new people for an English girl (I've been known to scare people), so in a way, I fit in here somewhat better than at home when it comes to meeting folk. However, I think I didn't realise just how ingrained my cultural norms are, so despite being frequently pleased by how seemingly welcoming and happy people are, I am also subconsciously unnerved by it. To try to summarise/explain better, the table below provides a good translation of what British people say and what they actually mean, and how it can be misinterpreted - this is what I am trying to get at with this post: we're a lot less literal, in terms of what we say, and say quite a lot less in the first place.



Oh, incidentally, I also really miss Dairy Milk. 

Monday, 14 November 2011

If it hadn't been for love

I feel the need to write a bit of a ranty (yes, it's now a word) post about how much stuff there has been to do over the past five weeks. Tomorrow at 3:30PM EST, it will have been 35 days since I arrived in NC and, while words cannot express my happiness and gratitude at finally being able to be here, for good, I have to say it isn't as easy as all that, at least in terms of how much there is still to be done.

Usually I hate to write anything negative on here - I mean, why read a blog that whines on about the negative when there's so much good in life, or one filled with the rhetoric, first-world whinging that some people feel almost duty-bound to share with the anyone who will listen? But for today, I am just going to keep a short record of one main thing, for the purposes of honesty and openness when considering a K-1 journey:

I am exhausted. 

We are exhausted. Ben and I found today, chatting on our way to get coffee after a delightful morning at the DMV on N. Tryon,  that we might have ever so slightly reached the limit as to how much we can do in the three short weeks before the wedding from now on; how much we are able to give to organising everything beyond that; and all the paperwork that comes with the next few months. We're tired. Not in a thorough way; not lacking in energy due to one big expenditure; it's just the repeated trips to do one-little-thing-at-a-time, almost every day, and it culminates in a sense of no time, no togetherness, and no control.

As well as the administrative tasks that are inevitably synonymous with a visa process, we are also blessed with so many wonderful people in our lives, and amazing opportunities, that "couple time" has been a rare phenomenon over the last month or so. In checking my Filofax, it seems we've had two, maybe three days together where Ben hasn't been working, I haven't been working, Ben hasn't had class, we haven't done anything specific for the visa/wedding, and we haven't seen other people, either - what I would class as actual "us" time. Madness! Now, I am not for a second suggesting this is something I should complain about per se; people have gone above and beyond to make me feel welcome, and to show their love for me and Ben as a couple. We have also been lucky in that, even though it's taken time to get documents processed, official visa items checked off, and wedding arrangements finalised, none of it has been more complicated than simply getting it done. We haven't - touch wood - encountered any unexpected obstacles. But, weirdly, I miss him, and I don't like seeing the impact all the drip-drip-drip process of getting everything checked off is having on him in particular.

Just to give you an indication of what we've done so far, partly to try to reassure myself that we're so much further forward than I keep thinking, and partly just to give an example of what a K-1 might entail post-move, here are some lists of what we have accomplished:

Residency
  • Social Security Card
  • Bank accounts
  • Applied for marriage license
  • State ID
  • Booked driving test
  • Preparing passport application for name change

Moving in
  • Registered with apartment administration office
  • Received and unpacked shipping
  • Been to IKEA and unpacked everything else into furniture purchased there!

Wedding
  • Visited venue and finalised details
  • Booked hairdresser
  • Arranged the rehearsal dinner
  • Chosen, bought, and put together wedding favours
  • Chosen and arranged bridal party flowers/decorations
  • Met with our officiant and started to write out ceremony order
  • Unpacked dress and arranged for it to be steamed (with great thanks to my M.I.L.!)
  • Chosen and arranged music for ceremony 
  • Dealt with wedding photographer changes!
  • Been to the reception venue to finalise details
  • Discussed in-law meeting plans pre-wedding day 
  • Started purchasing drinks for the day event

Work
  • Ben works 2-3 shifts every week, varying between 8 and 12 hours a time
  • Ben also works as an editorial assistant, which he does from home
  • Ben has class on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights, and has assignments to do in the meantime 
  • My internship has started (which is AMAZING! There will be a separate, gushing blog post for that!) and takes place between 10 and 3, Tues-Thurs inclusive
  • I have homework to do from my internship, which includes assignments for photos, online research, and developing the MOL business
  • I have learned where and how to catch the bus to uptown, and to walk from the bus depot to the studio


Social
  • Welcome drinks
  • Welcome dinner 
  • Crepe brunch
  • Trip to Waxhaw
  • Trip to Concord
  • 2 weddings
  • Seeing 'The Tempest' production, as part of Ben's studies
  • My gorgeous surprise bachelorette
  • 2 birthdays
  • Bonfire Night
  • Various trips to the diner to do trivia night most Thursdays
  • Several attempts to go to the gym

So there you have it. Admittedly a lot of that is stuff we should be (and are) happy about - the "social" list is the longest, so that is partly down to us and our choices, and the wedding faff for our big day is inevitable, too. But I hope that gives an idea of what to expect after travelling to the States on this visa, and also might explain to friends back home why I have been so uncharacteristically tardy in responding to emails. Still to come on the list of things to do, sticking just to after-wedding things now, are:
  1. Change name on SSC
  2. Change name on passport (circa £300 to do this)
  3. AOS application ($1080)
  4. Apply for car insurance ($?), study for and take NC driving test (change name on ID at the same time) 
  5. Get EAD (comes during the AOS proces) and AP, and then hopefully a green card soon after
  6. Job hunt and then actually work if I am fortunate enough to find a position. 


Easy as 1, 2, 3... 


Here is a picture of a happy duckling, for those of you who stuck with me through that list-tastic tirade.
My sincere apologies.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Wedding update

After four weeks of being in Charlotte, we have mostly figured out what we're doing, wedding-wise. Mostly. We've done wonderfully exciting things like get a marriage license; unpacked my dress and hung it up to allow creases to drop (hidden away from Ben's eyes at my soon-to-be mother-in-law's place!); and even met with our officiant to work out the finer particulars of the ceremony wording. However, there have been a few extra fun bits and bobs we've dealt with too, that I thought might make a good blog post. So, here goes...


Photographer

Anyone who has known me for more than about 24 hours will be well aware of my attachment to my camera, and my burning desire to make a career out of the passion I have for photography. This has resulted in a difficulty in prising My Other Limb out of my hands, to the point that having a wedding photographer was more of a personal choice for me than anything else about the details of the day, including the dress/shoes/other things that more girly/"normal" brides worry about! Ben is, of course, concerned about getting good photos that represent us and how we feel about both each other and photography (more of a reportage style, fewer posed shots, lots of candid fun, and so on), but I think we would both say I have more of a personal investment in not wanting to worry about the photos on our big day.

So, it came as rather a big shock to both of us that, when our UK photographer had to cancel last week (a month before the wedding), I didn't totally lose it. Part of that was, I think, due to its unavoidable nature: as our photographer was flying over to shoot the wedding, a combination of visa troubles (which we are, of course, familiar with) and insurance issues with taking photographic equipment out of Europe, prevented him from being able to travel. Add to that the fact that he is one of the nicest people you will ever have the fortune of meeting (check out our engagement shoot photos, which was the first time we met up in person), and that we were all three of us very sad to not have him come to the wedding, there seemed little point in getting more upset on top of that. Practicality shone through, and we decided to contact a wonderful woman by the name of Diane, who we'd had the fortune of talking to face-to-face when she was the photographer at a friend's wedding not a week before. I'd been following her work for some time on her blog (click on her company logo above to visit and see her stunning images), and absolutely loved the family and engagement portfolio she was building. On the off-chance that she was free and wanted to shoot the wedding, we sent an email, crossed our fingers, and went off to the gym, as though nothing this important was in the balance (I know, first world problems, eh?!). By the time we returned, Spanglish Studios had saved the day (in both senses, I guess! Geddit?), and we couldn't be happier about having Diane and her husband Marc as our photographers. We have such a great vibe from them, and I am so excited to see what will without a doubt be captivating, true, and beautiful photographs of our wedding day.


Venue


The Lakes, Kannapolis, NC, is our wedding venue, and was organised and booked by Ben during the Eve in absentia period of waiting for the visa to come through and having to get a wedding organised in the meantime. We visited last week and oh-my-goodness-it-is-beautiful (imagine this said in a breathy, over-excited voice that barely allows you to distinguish one word from another). Not only this but Deanna, who runs and organises all the weddings, is an absolute angel, organising everything from music to cakes; from flowers to weather contingency plans; from speech locations to full colour-coordination of sashes/napkins/table decorations/everything you could ever think of. For people like me and Ben, who are happy just for things to be the right colours and - provided people we love are there and there's enough food and drink for all - for our cake to be tasty, this is perfect. The minor details have never really bothered us too much, especially because of the emigration and K-1 journey coming before the wedding, so this takes almost all of the stress out of scripting the day's minutiae, leaving us to enjoy getting married. So excited!


Favours

Our favours are now all made up and ready to go! We opted for little old-fashioned sweet shop style jars, with bespoke labels detailing our names and wedding date. Inside, we debated about having personalised M&Ms (brilliant, delicious, but too pricey); chocolate-coated coffee beans (tasty but might not be to everyone's taste); or sugared almonds (very moreish, but possibly difficult for those with nut allergies). In the end, we went for the third option as we could get blue and white (our wedding colours, along with silver), afford enough to give everyone at both the wedding and reception a favour, and they are just SO unbelievably addictive that we felt people would enjoy them most - sans aforementioned allergies, of course. So, they're now all packed up in individually-wrapped little bubble packets, waiting for the big day. We have also obtained a guest book, and a pretty little "wishing well" for cards etc., which is actually an antique-style bird cage. It's all coming together. 


Guests

There is so much to be excited about, but this has to be one of the biggest things. As per the short explanation at the top right of QE, Ben and I met online via a Facebook group back in 2008. Along with us "meeting", we also had a pretty substantial group of friends that met within that particular group, and one or two other groups that we created between us all, subsequent to the one that started it all off. The long and short of this is that we have stayed in touch with those friends (and I've actually met one of them in person (four times, in fact!); a lovely lass from Canada who happened to be staying in England for a year as part of her degree course), and four of them are coming to the wedding! It will be such a pleasure to meet them all in person, together, and enjoy their company for real. Having had the pleasure of meeting several online friends in the real world (aside from Ben, which clearly worked out pretty well!), and getting on with them like a house on fire, I am thoroughly and ridiculously excited to see these people in the flesh. It will be a real treat, on top of everything else we have to look forward to that day.

That about sums up where we are right now. There are still a lot of last-minute, little things to do (pay balances, send music playlists, write vows - okay, some less little than others) but we're quite up together, which is immensely pleasing.

T minus 25 days... 

Bachelorette

As you may already know, getting people from the UK side of things over to the US for the wedding has been tricky at the best of times, and has resulted in both of my best friends being unable to come due to a variety of issues, mostly financial. I am in no way saying that this is a problem for me (although it of course makes me sad); a destination wedding always causes difficulties for those couples who cannot afford to pay for their nearest and dearest to travel to the country of choice. Were we able to - and hey, we might still win the lottery, so keep your fingers crossed! - we would love to be able to pay for everyone my friends in England to come to Charlotte for the week around our wedding day. Not only would it be a great event and such a privilege to have them there, but doing this would also allow us to show people from my side of the pond what life is like for me over here - a description that, even with Skype, Facebook, email, and good ol' snail mail, loses any sense of reality without direct experience.

However, despite those difficulties - or perhaps partly because of them - I have had a bachelorette party, here in the USA. And it was great. I am so ridiculously blessed in NC by having Ben's friends adopt me, without a moment's hesitation or doubt, as their friend, both part of Ben's life and, simultaneously but separately, part of all of theirs. As per my first full post-emigration update on QE, they have gone out of their way to take me out, show me around, make me feel like I can get to know the place, and just sharing their wonderful selves with me, never mind anything else. This was never more wonderfully obvious as when, on Friday night, our amazing "best man" Leah tricked me (in the best possible way) into thinking she and I were going on a girl-date, just the two of us.  After she showed me a couple of the prettiest spots in NoDa and uptown, suddenly strange things began to happen. More of our friends turned up. We went to dinner, and people joined us. We had drinks and dessert, with yet more friends. And then went back to her house, which she shares with her lovely husband Steven, to find both him and my gorgeous fiancĂ© waiting there with balloons, beers, and snacks, to round off what had been a fully successful, ridiculously thoughtful, surprise bachelorette party. Below are some photos from the evening, and here's to the magical, awesome people who made it happen. Thank you so much!







Sunday, 6 November 2011

Gonna find out who we are

Eve in the Queen City

Leah took me down to NoDa for a girl-date (which turned out to be a surprise bachelorette party - post about that to follow!), and our first stop was on an old railway track that looks directly down to downtown Charlotte. So here I am, happy in the Queen City. Thank you to Leah for the photo!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

In order to form a more perfect union

So, this would be the post for my accent v-log and, for various reasons, I have chosen to read a Shakespearean sonnet (so very English, right?!), and an American political document, to illustrate my current speech patterns.

The sonnet is a favourite of mine, about the foolishness of love (or choice of lover), and I know it from The Taming of the Shrew or rather, its modern guise, 10 Things I Hate About You. The sonnet (and its contemporary counterpart) can be read on this website, or just below my video, should you wish to explore further. As for the American reading, what else would it be, other than the Preamble of the US Constitution?!

I'll be reading these again in six months and a year, to see whether anyone can detect any changes in my accent as I live Stateside for longer and longer!




Sonnet 141

In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;
But 'tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who in despite of view is pleased to dote;
Nor are mine ears with thy tongue's tune delighted,
Nor tender feeling, to base touches prone,
Nor taste, nor smell, desire to be invited
To any sensual feast with thee alone:
But my five wits nor my five senses can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee,
Who leaves unsway'd the likeness of a man,
Thy proud heart's slave and vassal wretch to be:
Only my plague thus far I count my gain,
That she that makes me sin awards me pain.



Sonnet 141 (Derivative Version)

I hate the way you talk to me,
And the way you cut your hair.
I hate the way you drive my car.
I hate it when you stare.
I hate your big dumb combat boots,
And the way you read my mind.
I hate you so much it makes me sick.
(It even makes me rhyme.)
I hate the way you’re always right.
I hate it when you lie.
I hate it when you make me laugh—
Even worse when you make me cry.
I hate it when you’re not around, and the fact that you didn’t call.
But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you—not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all.





P.S. I really recommend watching 10 Things... if you haven't already.