Category Archives: London

Long Time No See

Why, hello there….[*clears throat*]…..

um…[*shuffles feet*]…hi.

[*cough*]

As I told a new internet friend, I have been meaning to come back here. It’s just, it seems that my news gets communicated on FB statuses (the only thing about FB I really like, although I am strangely anti-twitter, considering it’s not far off the same thing). And once you fall out of the habit of writing it out regularly, and the further you go from where you left off…well. It’s hard to jump back in there and know what to say, cause there’s lots I haven’t kept up with here. But I promised to try, so here I am. Nice to see you.

I guess I’ll start by following up on a few bits-and-bobs that I was talking about when we last met. In case you didn’t catch it by the “bits-and-bobs” thing, I’m well settled in London and I really love it here. What a great city. In fact, comparing it to my old city of NYC, I must say the latter looks less and less impressive. But then again I’m still new here. Ask me again in two years and I might be just as judgmental about London. (Don’t think so, but maybe.)

In fact, I’m so well settled in that we’re moving house already. Yes, that is a bummer. We were hoping to have bought a place by now, but that hasn’t yet worked out. And then our landlord decided to move back to London. We lucked out in scoring an apartment in the very same building (Whuuut? Yeay!), but then when all the bureaucratic necessities were done, there was a 19 day gap between apartment availability dates (Get out! Boooo!). We were sure the landlord would let us stay for that period – as were her mutual apartment owners here – but no. So, short version: we’re now moving out into a storage space, going to be “homeless for a few weeks”, then have to move back in. To the same damn building. (I mean, I like it here, just…a lot of trouble for a double move!) And a fresh rental contract means probably another year renting. So there’s that.

On the cancer front, I am well, though have had another round of tests due to weird, lasting neck pains. I’m (currently) feeling pretty confident on that front, but learning to navigate the NHS – yet another medical system – carries its own sort of pains in the neck.

In other related news, we have lost another dear lady to breast cancer. That makes two awesome women off my blog role that are sadly no longer with us. (Punk Rock Mommy and Sprucehill, you are missed.) It always takes me by surprise. I’m always sure they’re going to be fine. I had been lightly, but regularly commenting with her on FB. Suddenly there was a note from her family about her death. Aside from the sadness and feelings of injustice, it just brings all the fear rushing back, I must admit. I also lost a high school friend to melanoma in January. She had turned 36 not a week before, and I was just gathering detailed information on her situation (as I hadn’t wanted to pry earlier). I got the confirmation of her cancer from am mutual friend, and went to leave her a fresh note on FB, only to see lots of “RIP” comments. It was such a physical blow. I mean, I find it “wrong” enough that, at my age, myself and several friends have already dealt with cancer. But for one of us not to have made it…I am speechless.

In better news, my friend “P” (read below) has moved home back across the world. Even has a stellar new job. Her mom is hanging in there and they see each other often. For that much I am grateful.

And I guess that seems like enough for today. Next on the editorial calendar – more cheerful updates! How about travel and writing? Yeah. Those sound like good topics.

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Filed under breast cancer, cancer news, life, London

Oh no

Many of you have read this on Facebook, but let’s tell the story anyway…

I had to come to the US for an oncology check-up, because they said that if I moved it I could not get in again until late January. Well, I’m already 2 months overdue because I had to move my May appointment, and I couldn’t get a new one until early October. (So much for the claim that we’ll have waiting lists for health care if we got socialized medicine. I’m just sayin…) A doctor that requires a 4-5 month lead-in time for an appointment is difficult to keep up with when my work schedule goes month-to-month.

So I decided to keep this appointment, flew to DC, then had 4 free days until I had to work (on Sunday). It’s not quite enough time to bother flying home to London, so I went back to see my nieces instead. So there we were, the whole visiting family gang, driving home from Target having a good old time. My phone rings; it’s an unfamiliar number. It’s 5pm on Friday the 8th.

Hello? “This is crew scheduling calling for Flight Attendant [Killerboob]”. Yes? “So…are you almost at the airport?” (My world freezes.) Um, what? No. I’m not even in-state…because I don’t work until Sunday. “Actually, you had a trip tonight. You’ll be needing to talk to your supervisor.” That’s a tricky thing about this job. There is no “showing up late” for work. You’re late, and you’re out 3 days’ work. Ouch.

Oh man. How in the what did I do that? The entire month I’ve had it established that my trips were 10-12 and 13-15. I was 2 days off. It’s on my calendar, I reserved my return flight home for the 15th, I arranged the rest of my month around those dates, I never told my husband anything else… I just don’t know how I did that.

I must be spread too thin at the moment, trying to settle in the UK while having been unable to get a residence visa yet. (Thus, why I can’t currently have UK doctors. Or bank accounts. Or phone accounts. Or credit…) I must’ve just misread my schedule the first time, put it on my calendar, organized my month from there and not “registered” the misread since. [*tut*] Damn.

I already had to call in sick for my first trip out of my new base because I had a foot injury. Now I just didn’t show up for the second one. There are only 50 people at my new base; there’s no anonymity here. They are going to think I am one serious flake. And really, could I blame them? I’ll just have to go in early, take it like a (wo)man – oh, and take donuts. Must not forget the donuts. Donuts always make people think you’re a nice person. Right? It works for Dexter…

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Filed under breast cancer, London, work

Pyar sirf ek bar hota hai aur shaadi bhi ekhi baar hota hai

I lead you with this famous Bollywood quote, as it seems appropriate for a post about attending my first Indian wedding. It means, “Love happens only once, so does marriage.” Also, the only other dialogue I know from Indian movies is “Jai ho” and “Aja, aja”, but Amen; come on! come on! doesn’t make for very a good title. Or anything else for that matter. They are, however, still fun to say.

It all started Thursday, the day after the “sleepover” with Adam I mentioned in the above post. A mutual friend from our Belgium days, Aga, flew in from the US just in time for the bride’s Henna (Mehndi) Party. Aga and I thought this would be 20 girls sitting around on cushions while Dimple (the bride’s name) got “henna’ed”…clue #1 that we were clueless about Indian weddings!

Dimple’s family lives among two houses side by side. The combined backyard had been completely transformed by a colorful fabric tent, turning the whole thing into a cheerful oasis. Oh, and there were at least 100 people there. Aga and I were also the only people not in a sari or other Indian-wear. Correction: the only females not in Indian attire. The men were mostly dressed in Western styles, but all had matching scarves (a party treat from the bride). I snagged one for Del but he does not seem inclined to wear it.

Dimple was secluded in a room, her hands almost done. Aga and I sort of pushed our way back there, not understanding that the bride was supposed to be secluded at this point, due to the high risk of smudging her henna if distracted. And we immediately understood this; her henna job was gorgeous and delicate, ultimately taking 5 hours –  just for the hands! She said that we were, however, special guests, so we visited for 10 minutes ooh-ing and ahh-ing, also over the fact that neither of us had seen her in at least a year. She has not only lost a substantial amount of weight, but also gone from girl to woman, in a sense. Our sweet, casual friend Dimple now sat before us like genie from a bottle. With a low braid languishing over her shoulder and reaching towards her stomach, movie-star make-up, a mega-watt smile and a joyfully embroidered, almost neon-orange dress, she was absolutely jaw-to-the-floor stunning. I’m sure the beaming happiness helped.

After causing her to giggle (and thus, smudge), Aga and I excused ourselves and joined the rest of the guests in the tent, where several women were offering henna. We’d been advised there would be “an Indian queue”, which meant we had to throw some elbows to get in line. But we managed. It was such a new world for us, being the minority for a change. We got many stares but all was cheerful and friendly and welcoming. We’re not very good at henna though, as ideally one sits still for 2 hours afterwards as not to ruin it. We did not have the luxury of being secluded, however, and crowds do not make for good mehndi.

Meanwhile, dinner was served. Surprise – it was spicy! (Over the course of this wedding we were fed 4 times. I’ve never been so generously fed and so starving in all my life…) Dimple made her entrance, led to a stage/lounging-throne at the front of the room, where she could be more social while her feet mehndi got done. During the henna process her relatives and friends serve her, feed her, everything-her as not to ruin the drying art. Given the effort required to preserve the design, it was not hard for me to imagine the ancient beginnings of this ritual – what a statement of rank and wealth an elaborate henna job was. (There goes Anthropology-me again…)

As for Aga and I, we both got fairly smudged; plus, it is body heat which determines the final color. This means that we both have beautiful light brown lacy designs on our arms, followed by smudgy dirty-orange hands. Any illusion of cool reserve is shattered for amateures like us, who don’t know well enough to ask for it on the (less heat-prone) back of the hand instead.

Four days later it has faded some, but still looks like this:

Oh dear. Work is not going to be happy…

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Filed under humor, life, London, wedding stuff