The difference between ‘sure’ and ‘sure’

So I’m not going to start this posting with that clichéd thing about America and England being two countries divided by a common language. Ok, I will. I’m not sure if it was Shaw or Wilde, but someone at some point in history once said: “England and American are two countries divided by a common language.” There.

I have already mentioned the ocean-sized difference between ‘fanny’ in the US and ‘fanny’ in the UK. In the US it’s a polite word for ‘bottom’ and in the UK it means someone’s vagina. Imagine the horror around the dinner table when my one-time American husband told my family that if my sister called him Chrysalis one more time (his name was Chris) he’d give her a smack on the fanny. Awkward.

Rather more tame and subtle is the difference between ‘sure’ and ‘sure.’

Take this conversation:

Doris: “Hey Rachel, would you like to taste some of my cheesecake I baked this weekend?”
Rachel: “Sure.”

In the US, Rachel’s comment would be interpreted as, “Yes, I’d love to eat some of your specially baked cheesecake Doris. How thoughtful of you to bring me some.”

However, if Rachel was in England ‘sure,’ would mean “Um. If I have to.” English Rachel is being about as rude as will be socially tolerated about that cheesecake without actually saying the words “No Doris! Your last two were totally gross plus how many times do I have to tell you I’m trying to go gluten-free? However as you keep going on and on about it SURE I will eat some of your snatchy cheesecake, you inconsiderate hound.”

That’s the difference between UK ‘sure’ and US ‘sure.’ And it continually makes me edgy. I ask people if they’d like me to help them with something at work. They say: Sure. I wonder do they secretly hope I’ll be laid off at the next corporate culling?

I ask my boyfriend if he wants to snuggle. He says: Sure. I’m suddenly wondering when he’s going to move out and how on earth I’m going to afford the mortgage payment without him. Yesterday I asked Finn if he liked his dinner and he said: Sure. I told him that was very rude and he should always say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when I asked him that question. What? Someday he might want to live in England. This is only to stop Finn-of-the-future being socially shunned.

Also you’ll notice I’ve used the name Doris in my dramatization above. In the UK ‘Doris’ is only a name for women who are over the age of 75 who may or may not still be working as ‘tea ladies.’ In the US it’s a perfectly normal name given to normal, and even cool, women of any age.

I cannot think of anymore sure/fanny/Doris examples right now but I know they are out there. Next time I come across one I shall let you all know.

When Harry Met Cammy – Prince Harry Gets a New Girlfriend

So… The Royal Family. Now I’m not a royalist or anything but…OK I’m totally a closet royalist. Obviously it’s much easier to get away with being ‘into’ the Royal Family in LA than it would be if I still lived in England where that kind of behavior is seen as pretty uncool. Well, it’s seen as uncool though most people are secretly still slightly interested. I have a friend who went to Oxford and when Kate and Wills were getting wed, all the girls crowded round the telly and drunk in every detail whilst vehemently pointing out that they were not into the whole thing at all and were about to leave any minute now to go to their economics and mathematical systems lecture. So even the smartest of us have the same kind of underground appreciation.

The English often like to love and hate something all at the same time: Pop Idol, Jamie Oliver, Tony Blair, Centre Parks. The Royal Family comfortably falls into this category.

All this preamble and justification is because today, I want to talk about Prince Harry’s new girlfriend. Camila Thurlow. You read it here first: They are going to get married. Of course you’ll be wondering how on earth I know this when I don’t know either or them and have no insider knowledge whatsoever.

On a weird ‘insider information’ side note…At one stage of my life I was a massage therapist and I once gave a massage to that Sun journalist who got a job at the palace as a butler or something and then spilled the beans about a bunch of embarrassing stuff like Prince Andrew telling the servants to ‘fuck off’ when they woke him up in the morning. He didn’t stop asking me questions the whole way through the massage and his mid-back area was super tight.

This knowledge of a future engagement isn’t because I have a pal pretending to be Prince Harry’s scullery maid or anything. No. I just know it.

And yes it’s going to be awkward for Harry to have his wife have the same name as his step-mother but I suppose they’ll figure it out. At my work we have two mangers both called Kevin (again, Kevin is a normal name for normal people in America). Having two Kevins caused endless confusion so we ended up calling one of them Kev and the other: The Bear Slayer. But that’s a story for another time.

So why do I think Harry and Cammy are going to get married? Multiple reasons:

1. Prince Harry is in the zone. The marriage zone. He’s about to turn 30. The Queen’s putting the pressure on. Straight out of a story book he’s a Prince of Age Looking for a Wife. I’m surprised they didn’t already throw a ball where a black swan showed up.

2. She’s smart – straight As. Going from his academic record, Harry’s not as smart as she is. However I think he’s the kind of guy that will be super impressed by her brains as opposed to intimidated. (Again – never met Prince Harry in my life.)

3. She’s Scottish. In an 18th century kind of way, this will be a good alliance between the two countries. Especially when Scotland is considering breaking away. A royal wedding to a girl from the Dumfries will put an end to all that chatter once and for all. The Queen is thinking: Yes!

4. She’s sporty. The last one was too arty. Harry is more sporty than arty. This is a better match.

5. She was once in a beauty pageant. (She was crowned Miss Edinburgh). This more than anything makes me think that this one is the next Duchess of Whatever Title She’s Going to Get. Because of this: She. Is. Up for it. She’s worn a tiara before and liked it. She’ll not go running in the opposite direction of all that ‘duty.’ She’ll run towards it. Again it sounded like the last one was kind of being dragged towards the whole thing kicking and screaming – that scenario had disaster written all over it. Thank God she’s gone back to shellacking her pointe shoes.

One other note. Everyone keeps saying how Camila Thurston looks just like Kate Middleton. This comment has the inappropriate undertone that Harry’s trying to make up for the fact that he can’t have his brother’s wife, so instead he’s trying to find someone who looks just like her.

Um, is this because they both have long brown hair?

Everyone’s got it completely wrong. Camila actually looks just like Jools Oliver:

Jools

Jools

Cammy

Cammy

How to be a Mother

So seeing as this blog is maybe supposed to be about parenting (given its title) I thought I’d give you some tips on the few things I’ve picked up over the past five years of being a mom/mum:

1.Learn how to install the car seat – yourself.
I don’t care if you are a single mommy/mummy or have an always-there husband and whole houseful of helpful relatives living right next door, learn to install the car seat – yourself. It will come up. Car seats will need to be transferred into rentals/loaners/your boss’s bmw and the situation will be thrust upon you when you least expect it. The day your husband’s been called away urgently to business in Peru, your kid has a fever of 102 and you have to get him to a pediatric appointment – that’s the day your car will conk out and you’ll have to get a loaner and then…you’ll have to install the car seats. It’s not hard. It’s just important to learn how to do it before you need to know how to do it.

2.Make some mommy friends.
This is not for the purposes of getting parental advice. That’s what the Internet is for. Actually the worst thing you can do if you want to keep hold of your mommy friends is invite them along to your own personal monologue of “All the wonderful ways I did it.” (I ironically note that that is exactly what I am doing in this blog posting.) The reason you need mommy friends is so you can complain to someone who really gets it – over a glass of wine.

3.Wear flat shoes.
Wear them every time you leave your house if you know your children will be coming with you. No heel, not even a kitten heel or a low wedge. None. Any elevation at all is to directly ask for trouble. As a mother you will be required to sprint, squat, pivot ,lunge, leap – trainers are the only rational footwear option. Alternatively buy some cute sandals.

4.Be or don’t be a Helicopter Parent.
Know that you will never get the helicopter/non-helicopter level right in the eyes of society. The minute you shout out ‘careful’ when your daughter looks like she’s about to dive head first off the top of the slide is the minute someone rolls their eyes and makes it clear that you’re being ‘repressive.’ The minute you turn back is the second they fall off the top of the climbing frame.

5.I’m not saying you can’t dress cute. Just not right now.
Give up on keeping your own clothes clean. Wear things that you don’t mind getting stained with bright red pasta sauce, covered in chalk dust or dirt patches. Steer away from pale pants. Leave all clothes that cost more than $60 in the closet.

6.Consider wearing ear plugs – all of the time.
I’ve been driven to this on the occasional weekend. BB sometimes gets frustrated, wondering why I’m suddenly not responding to a thing he says but aside from that – it’s golden times.

7.Try not to get too hung up on the gender thing.
I like equality. And I don’t want Mini to be held back from achieving anything in her life just because she’s female. According to the Parental Internet apparently one of the most important ways I’m to make sure she’s not being Repressed from Birth by Men, is via her selection of toys. If I let her dress up as Snow White, I’m told, it’s a sure thing that she will never want to join the Maths and Science Academy. Bummer. Well. As Mrs. Barlow always liked to say: Everything in moderation. The fact that Mini runs towards everything pink in the toy store and rams all three of her baby dolls in her toy pram and insists on taking them everywhere does not mean she’s doomed to a life in the typing pool. She also loves to play with trains and cars; she loves Legos and piles a mean stack of bricks. Sometimes Finn loves to play with Mini’s dolls and dress them up too. I think the key to dealing with this gender stuff is to introduce your kids to a good mixture of things. Unless you are snatching dolls away from your boy because it’s not manly or refusing to purchase your daughter a robotic construction kit because God knows where that might lead – it’s all good.

8.Create firm boundaries and reinforce them.
This is the most grueling one of all and one that BB and I learned the hard way. Finn likes to test the rules again, and again and again and again. If we yield and let him have iPad time when it’s not iPad time JUST ONCE, he knows he’s broken us and we’ll have to start all over again from scratch. Maybe some kids are fine with inconsistency; however I’m yet to meet one of them. In general, they will look out for a weak moment (usually after a glass of Chardonnay on a Thursday evening after a 12-hour work day) and move in for the attack. Stay strong. Someone somewhere is making a medal for you. You might not get it till you cross over to the other side – oh well.

9.Do all of your shopping online.
All of it. Everything. I’m even talking toothpaste. Not only will you save time, you won’t have to buy your kids extra toys when you go to Target and they start whining. Also you won’t have people at the store judging you because your kids are whining – bonus.

10.Take a million pictures and write down each and every hilarious thing they say.
I’m repeatedly told that this childhood thing all goes by very quickly and one day I’ll be left wrinkly and old and sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch with nothing but my iPhone-of-the-future to remind me of this time.

For now it seems like time is passing at exactly the right speed it’s supposed to.

Tampons around the world

Hedge: This all gets pretty grody pretty fast. If you don’t like reading about menstrual blood and the disposal of it you’d better skip this week’s entry…

So this could maybe be classified more as a Public Service Announcement than a blog entry. Today we’ll be talking about tampons etc. and the disposal of them in the USA. You’ll see we’ve gravitated straight back to the heavy stuff here.

I only have any in-depth experience of sanitary product disposal in the two countries: America and Great Britain but I see on my little ‘interesting stats info’ page that there are people who read this blog in Canada, Colombia, Guatemala, Sweden, the Russian Federation, Australia and the Philippines so please do feel free to chime in on your own countries’ systems!

In the UK (for the most part) you flush tampons etc. down the loo/toilet. That’s the general rule. You may see those sanitary disposal things in public stalls but unless there’s a sign up explaining that the plumbing’s packed in so you can you not flush anything – they generally stay unused. (Apart from the convent school I went to where they collected up all the lady products and burned them in an incinerator once a week. The ashes floated unfettered across the playground as if to announce our womanly sins to the whole world.)

However – in contrast to the ‘flush and pray’ method in the UK – in the US you put all used sanitary products in the trash can. Yes I’m talking about your bathroom trash can/bin. You don’t flush any part of your sanitary product down the loo. It all goes in the trash.

BB refers to this as a ‘cultural difference.’

And what a difference it is. Before I lived in the states I had an American lady housesit for me once and she left my trash can brimming with used sanitary products. I could. not. believe. it. I was about ready to call the cops.

However living in another country will change you in ways you never thought possible. Last time I visited the UK I came face-to-face with a ‘bobber.’ A tampon that had presumably made its way down into the system only to resurface after an insufficiently strong flush. The bobber had blooded all the water in the bowl. There was also a leftover turd in there too and the whole offering looked a bit like a small squirrel had been attacked by a shark.

This all could have been avoided by placing the rogue tampon immediately in the trash. Though presumably the turd would have remained…

I’m not sure what the most environmentally friendly option is but I will tell you here that I have fully transitioned to the American ‘place it in the bin’ option. But only because if BB caught me flushing tampons down the toilet and risking gumming up our ancient plumbing system he would most probably finish with me on the spot.

And I ain’t going back to single parenthood again because of a soggy tampon.

When when when?

So how often am I intending on publishing this blog thing perhaps as many as four of you would be interested to know.

Well I’ll tell you! I’m aiming to send out a posting late Thursday night ready for your viewing first thing Friday morning – just in time to set the tone for the weekend. That is if the tone you like to set for your weekend is somewhat antsy and probably border-line inappropriate.

I may post the odd mini-gem/announcement mid-week, just incase we all need a pick-me-up.

And it must be said I’m not committing to never leaving you all in the big black zone of nothing published for weeks on end…but I’ll do my best to keep it going as long as I see that people are reading!

About Robin Williams

I think most people felt pretty sad this week upon hearing the news of Robin William’s death.

It’s always horrible when someone dies, no matter how they go, no matter what gifts they did or did not bring to the world.

However with Robin Williams, the circumstances and the fact that he’d consistently brought so many laughs to so many people for multiple decades, made the news of his death extra unsettling.

So most people are saddened by the news. That’s normal.
However I’m feeling extra blue about the whole thing and I’m trying to figure out why.

My confusion boils down to this: I didn’t know the guy – like have him round to dinner parties and stuff – so why am this sad?

I didn’t get extra sad about Princess Diana, Amy Winehouse, Peaches Geldof or Kurt Cobain – as tragic as those ‘before their time’ losses were. So why am I so touched by the suicide of someone who I saw acting in a few films?

The circumstances are extra morbid, which is probably the main reason I’m so rattled by the whole thing. Suicide is unthinkable to most of us. We’re all so busy doing everything we can to elongate our time on the planet we can’t fathom how someone else would want to bring it to an early close. It’s upsetting because it’s confusing. (Of course it would probably be less confusing to me if I lived with debilitating depression.)

I think the main reason I’m so spun out by the whole thing is because his suicide was so very intentional. When someone dies of an overdose, you can always kind of make believe that perhaps they didn’t really know what they were doing. Consciously know, anyway.

Unfortunately I heard a very specific news report detailing how he did it and I’m not going to go into it all here – I didn’t enjoy hearing it the first time around – but let’s just say he was very determined to finish his life. He could have changed his mind anytime along the process – but he didn’t.

I keep wondering if he lived a whole life like this, struggling and struggling with Hell inside, but just kept on pushing on.

Someone on the news called Robin Williams a coward, but I think him living with such severe depression all his life and not killing himself before the age of 63 probably makes him extremely brave indeed.

“My Ass” to Gravitas

So some dame called Sylvia Ann Hewitt has brought out a new book called: Executive Presence. No I haven’t read it – clearly – but I did read someone else’s review of it.

I believe the general grasp of the book is that in order for a woman to succeed in the world she needs to be able to pull off a few things:

- To be able to do her job (I’ve got that one down – more or less)
– Be a good communicator (I’ve had my shaky moments but I’ve mostly got this in the bag)
– Grooming (yes – when I put my mind to it)
– Be in possession of the quality known as gravitas (NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN)

Gravitas.

According to Sylvia, gravitas has been described as a mix of “confidence, grace under fire, being decisive, showing your teeth and emotional intelligence.” To toot my own trumpet once again: I believe I have those traits yet I regrettably do not, and never will have, gravitas.

Because gravitas is something in addition to all of those things. It’s being able to take yourself seriously. It’s being formal, most of the time. Especially in the workplace.

Could I make this happen? Oh probably if I felt like living my life like that. But I’m not sure it would work out as well for me as Sylvia thinks it might. I tried it the other the day when I went to see my cancer doctor as I’ve always thought she should treat our relationship with a little more gravitas i.e. stop bitching to me about her other patients. However it did not end well for me as she asked if I was depressed. When I said: no, she said I must be feeling incredibly tired then. Perhaps the cancer had returned…and she sent me for a battery of annoying tests. : (

I can name the women at my office who have gravitas and it has indeed served them very well. But yet again I must refer you to this famed posting:

http://wp.me/pXcMj-41

This would never happen to a woman with gravitas. In fact not having gravitas is becoming my trademark these days.

In lieu of me being able to make money as a department head owing to my lack of gravitas let’s all hope I’ll be able to make it off of just being a plain old ass instead.