Blog Share: Something I Don't Blog About.

Today’s post is randomly brought to you from one of the fabulous bloggers participating in -R-’s Blog Share. Please make today’s anonymous writer feel welcome, and be sure to take a peep at the other participating bloggers featured at the end of the blog.

*****
I was a junior in college when I met my real, grown-up first love. He was instantly attracted to me and let me know it, but not in the way your usual frat-tastic college boy does. He asked for my phone number, and called me. He invited me on dates, opened the door, pulled out my chair and picked up the tab. His family was quite wealthy (his parents gave him $600 of spending money each month!), and he spared no expense in taking to me on very "grown up" feeling dates--nice restaurants and weekend hotel trips. He quickly told me he loved me. He told me I was beautiful and smart, and, for the first time in my life, I believed it.

After we'd gone out a couple times, he and I casually discussed going to dinner one Saturday night. At the last minute, I was invited to go out of town on a school trip that my girlfriends were participating in. I called my new boyfriend, ecstatic, to report my plans.

"Guess what!" I squealed into the phone, "I just got invited to go on this trip with the girls and I am so excited."
Silence.
Then he exploded, "WE were supposed to go to dinner on Saturday night!"
I stammered something about it being a great last-minute opportunity.
"Well, I hope I'm going to SEE YOU before you go."

I laughed it off, went on the trip anyway, and he never mentioned it again. All the same, I noticed his overreaction at the time. The tone wasn't his usual new-love enthusiasm, it was downright angry. It seemed strange.

We continued to date. From time to time, I'd notice him getting disproportionately angry at a fellow driver or a professor. He got into a few little disagreements with mutual friends that turned in to him trashing them whenever I mentioned them. But he was also sweet, the king of romantic gestures. He sent me a half-dozen roses every single Friday. (Sent them.) He encouraged me to take an internship, think about graduate school and asked me to edit his term papers.

During winter break of our senior year, my boyfriend came to visit me at my parents' house. After my parents went to bed, we stayed up talking in my bedroom. My boyfriend had recently accepted a job in another city. I hadn't yet begun my post-graduation job search, but I was planning to consider not only the city where boyfriend would be working, but also my hometown.

Now, my boyfriend and I were pretty serious, and pretty in love. I had every intention of ultimately choosing to settle in the city where his job was located. I just felt that, at the beginning of my adult life, I needed to consider all of the options, explore the job market in a number of places, before committing. I tried to explain that to my boyfriend, but the more I explained, the angrier he got.

Soon, the argument got very heated. Knowing my own temper, I tried to stand up to leave the room so that we could cool down. My boyfriend stood in front of my spot on the bed so that I couldn't get completely upright. His physically restricting my space only made me angrier. I barked at him to get out of my way. He crowded closer. I repeated myself, "I am leaving. Get out of my way." He refused again. Finally, I raised my hand and slapped his cheek. He responded by hitting me so hard in the ribs that I flew back onto the bed and the wind knocked out of me.

For a long moment, we just looked at each other, and I saw that he was as shocked as I was that he had just hit me. He quickly moved out of my way, and I silently went to bed in a different bedroom.

The next morning, he snuck into my room and apologized. Well, sort of. He said, "I'm sorry I hit you, but you did slap me first." I tried to explain that, for me, his blocking me from moving out of the room was physical, too. He didn't buy it.

That incident, understandably, stayed with me. We rarely discussed it, though, because every time it came up, the conversation descended into whether he "started it" by crowding me or I "started it" by slapping him. And, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't quite shake the feeling that it shouldn't matter who started it. I'd felt the anger with which he hit me. I knew how out of control he was at that moment, and I knew that it didn't compare to the frustration I felt when I slapped him.

Months passed. We graduated from college, and I ended up taking a job in the same city that he lived in. We moved in together that summer. Around the time that my boyfriend's job started, he began struggling with some mild depression. I encouraged him to seek counseling; he opted to call his mother's psychiatrist and have a prescription for an antidepressant phoned to a nearby pharmacy. While I think antidepressant medication is great for many, many people, it worried me that this doctor was prescribing it to my boyfriend sight unseen.

My boyfriend's new chemical routine did not deter him from taking advantage of his new job's twice weekly happy hours. I noticed a difference immediately. Before the antidepressant, my boyfriend had been a funny drunk. Now, he was belligerent and careless. After a few weeks of this behavior, I talked to him about it. I gently suggested that he call the psychiatrist and ask about mixing the new drug with alcohol. My boyfriend blew me off, and, as if to prove me wrong, went out and got even drunker that night.

When he returned to our apartment, I was angry. He was in a sweet sloppy state, wanting to cuddle and kiss. Stupidly, I let my anger get the better of me and I confronted him about being drunk, while he was still drunk. He was not amused and lumbered into the bedroom, where he threw himself horizontally on the bed, leaving no room for me. I was not thrilled about potentially curling up on the sofa for the evening. I went into the bedroom and yelled at him to at least move over so that I could sleep in our bed.

Then, all hell broke loose.

I remember very little from the ensuing minutes. I don't remember my boyfriend getting out of bed. I don't remember him hitting me for the first time. I remember him pinning me to the ground and hitting me in the face so hard that one of my crowns snapped in half. I remember trying to hit back or get out of his grasp, but being no match for someone six inches taller and fifty pounds heavier.

I remember the moment it stopped. Both exhausted from the struggle and the emotion, we collapsed in bed. The next morning, he called my boss and his own and told them we wouldn't be in to work. He called my dentist and made me an emergency appointment to have my crown repaired. Even though it was July, he handed my a long-sleeved t-shirt to wear to hide the bruises. He took me to the dentist and sat with me as they fixed my crown, even as the hygienist looked suspiciously in his direction when she saw the bruise blooming on my cheek. That afternoon, he went out for flowers, my favorite magazine and a chick flick on DVD.

I would like to tell you that I left then, but I didn't. I struggled with what had happened for a full three weeks, until, one day at work, I walked outside, called the only person from college who I new in the new city. He met me for dinner and told me to leave. I wasn't even very close to the college friend, but he was literally all I had, and I am forever grateful to him for knowing that and pretending he was my best friend for that one night. The next morning, a Saturday, I told my boyfriend I was leaving. Once again, the anger and aggression rose in him. Once again, he stood in the doorway. He yelled. I threatened to call the police, and he backed down. As I packed a bag, he shouted, "You're not really going to leave me." I said, simply, "Watch me."

With my mom's credit card, I booked a hotel room and spent the day looking for a new apartment. By the end of the day on Sunday, I'd signed a lease. My boyfriend and I have communicated a couple times since then, but we remain out of touch.

About a year later, there was an ad on television saying that one in three women will be the victim of physical abuse in a relationship at some point in her life. Perversely, it makes me kind of happy. As physical abuse goes, I got off pretty easy. Two incidents, one broken crown, and I got out quickly. I think of my mother and my sister and I am glad that experience makes me the one in the three of us who has to go through this. I know it doesn't work that way, but I feel as though they're somehow safe. Because I'm the "one in three," they will never be hurt that way.

I don't talk about this experience very much, partly because I really did love my former boyfriend and I have mixed feelings about reducing our relationship to this one thing and partly because I feel that the abuse was so infrequent that I am overdramatizing it. But I will say, here, that this is abuse. One fight that gets out of control and gets physical? It's abuse. If you slap him first? It's abuse. If he was drunk and you picked a fight? It's abuse. If he is an extremely smart, successful and rich college student? It's abuse. It's all wrong, and it's all inexcusable, and you should strongly consider leaving. Now.

*****

The Adventures of Shelagh

Alice's Wonderland

Aly

And You Know What Else

Bright Yellow World

Daily Tannenbaum

Du Wax Loolu

Elise

Everything I Like Causes Cancer

Face Down

Fretting the Small Stuff

For the Long Run

Galoot's Hoot Page

Granted Null

Grumpy Frump

Just Below 63

Lawyerish

Life After AC

Liz Land

Malfeasance

Mamma Ren

Muse On Vacation

Muze News

Nancy Pearl Wannabe

Not What You Think It Is

One New Duck

Rankin Inlet: A Journey Northwards

Red Red Whine

Reflections in the Snow-Covered Hills

The Reluctant Blogger

Sass Attack

Sauntering Soul

Sparkling Cipher

Stefanie Says

Three Carnations

Tracy Out Loud

Way Way Up

Check Back Tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the second round of -R-'s fantastic Blog Share writing adventure.

For those of you who aren't sure what the Blog Share is all about, let me quickly explain. -R- uses all of her rad organisational skills and randomly assigns participants to another blogger's home on the web, and they are then able to write about anything at all that they feel like expressing.

The perks? It's all done somewhat secretly. Let's face it, there are always times when we've really been dying to blog about a certain issue or topic, but fall into the old habit of censoring what we write - mostly because we are aware of the fact that our blog is public. Throw in the anonymity, and it's brilliant.

Tomorrow I won't be writing on this blog - but I encourage you to stick around and read what appears. Alternatively, my own anonymous post will be floating around the internet somewhere, so definitely peruse the participant list that will follow the blog post. Enjoy it, and don't forget to leave your fellow bloggers some comment loving! You never know whose day you will make in the process. Hoorah for secrets!

How NOT to Start Your Morning.

You know you're in London when;

You manage to trip over your own feet whilst walking up the stairs inside the tube station, spectacularly falling forwards on your hands whilst simultaneously smacking your shins against the metal floor and making a loud grunting noise on impact... and the people behind you simply divert their path and walk around your awkardly sprawled out on the dirty floor body without even giving you a second glance.

Not that this happened to me today or anything, oh no. Although I do have a whopping great bruise on my leg, as well as my ego. I wonder where those came from.

How was your day today?

A Letter to my Body.

Dear Body,

I refuse to make this post a whinging rant about you. Sure, it would be nice to pass the blame and talk about how miserable you make me, but that is not what this is about. I could talk about my multitude of flaws, but it's not about that either.

When push comes to shove, I just want to be comfortable in you, I really do. I don't want to have to hide you, or feel paranoid in public. I don't want to flinch when my other half looks at me, or have him disappointed in me because I'm not what I'm supposed to be, whatever that is. I don't want to feel like this forever.

I'm sorry that I compare you to other people, because it's really not fair. You are different, you don't fall into a particular size or shape category. How is it possibly healthy for me to walk into a room and automatically assess if I'm going to be the largest person there.. again, and yet I continue to do so. Why do I do this? What is it achieving? What is that doing for me, or for you? It's any wonder I can't be happy, with all the negativity that is going on in my own mind.

If I'm being blatantly honest, the thought of our relationship in the future frightens me. If I can't be comfortable in my own skin at twenty-three, how is it going to be in another five, ten, twenty years? I should be spending my twenties enjoying myself, getting out and about without worrying about body image, but I'm not. I'm unhappy. I treat you badly, I know I treat you badly, and yet I continue in the path of self destruction.

So what is the next step? How do I get to the stage where I can wake up in the morning and be? How do I get to the stage where I am simply thankful that you are functioning and mostly healthy? How do I end this ridiculous cycle of events?

I guess it all comes down to looking after you better - because I'm not looking after you.

I can already hear my inner cynicist retaliating at that statement:

What? But what about all of those days I spent exercising? And eating well? And obsessing over calories? What about those thirteen kilograms I lost last year? What the hell am I supposed to do? I'm never going to be a thin person. Never!

Valid questions, sure. But the logical part of me has rebuttals ready to go:

And what happened after you hurt your leg? You went from exercising daily, to not exercising at all. You slacked off. You pretended you could get away with relaxing, that you were maintaining, that you were happy. You turned a blind eye when your jeans got tighter, when you realised you were gaining weight again. You tested the waters, you got comfortable. Denial - it's not only a river in Egypt, love.

Damned if my logical mind isn't correct. I've let myself go. That's not to say I'm stuffing my face with food or not moving from the couch - but I have let myself down. The good habits that took months to create and months to see results, have disappeared, replaced with laziness and complacency.

I used to be able to pick things about myself that I loved - my hair, my legs, my smile. These days though, I'm so caught up in the negatives that I feel as though I am quite literally falling to pieces. I don't know why my weight is always at the top of the list, but for the longest time I've believed that if I fix my weight? I'll have fixed the problem. If it was as easy as that, I would have fixed the problem years ago. I hate that it's a problem to begin with. I hate that it's my problem.

I've got to learn to love you, body. I'm learning. I'll always be learning. And to sum it all up? I'm dedicating a song to you, which is going to be my mantra from now on.

Climb up over the top, survey the state of the soul.
You've got to find out for yourself whether or not you're truly trying.
Why not give it a shot?
Shake it, take control. And inevitably wind up,
Find out for yourself all the strengths that you have inside of you.
- Jason Mraz: Song for a Friend -


I promise I'll be giving it a shot. And not just starting tomorrow, either. Starting now.

Always stuck with you,

Aly.

(This post was written as part of a BlogHer initiative.)

Question Time.

How many cups of tea do you reckon are drunk across the UK every day?

a) 75 million
b) 105 million
c) 135 million
d) 175 million
e) 235 million

Discuss amongst yourselves - and leave your guess in the comments. No googling!

Stepping Back in Time.

Last night was cold, dark and rainy - what better time for a history lesson? I tagged along with a fellow Aussie teacher I recently met, to do the Jack the Ripper walk.

There were loads of other people on the tour, which made it a wee bit hard to hear - but our guide had a nice booming voice and a very funky cap, so that made it all okay. You'll have to excuse my grainy pictures, the light was terrible & my hands so cold!



We visited lots of sites in the East End that are still standing all these years later - including spots where the victims were found. I must say though, the gorgeous dingy building blocks were spoiled by the modern carparks and buildings that were adjacent to them. Old meets new and while it's intriguing to see, it's also a bit of a shame. You've got to leave a lot of what it might have looked like then to the imagination.



I found the Jack the Ripper history and conspiracies really interesting back in high school, and that still rings true today. Definitely worth adding to your list of things to-do in London - I know I'll be going back for a few more different walks in the future.

Taking a Raincheck.

Busy night tonight ... leaving me pooped.

Bed calling me - Alyyyyy ... Alyyyyyyyyyy ... come rest your weary bones on me!

I'll be back to my regularly scheduled blogging as of tomorrow.

You're Never Gonna Keep Me Down.

They say bad things come in threes, and I certainly had that proven to me this morning.

It all started when I jumped in to have my morning shower. I woke myself up a little earlier than usual, as I knew I had to wash my hair which always takes longer - but even so, I guess our poor water heater didn't cope with both Jase and I having showers in the morning. (Usually I take mine the night before, to save precious sleep time.) I had hot water for precisely six second bouts, and I can safely say that it was the most miserable shower I've had since arriving here. The dodgy shower was just the beginning, though.

The second batch of bad luck came when I was on my first train to work. The major station that I always end up in to catch my connecting tube to was closed due to a fire alarm, so my train got diverted to a station nowhere near where I wanted to go. After eventually making my way to a tube station, someone decided it would be fun to pull a prank by stopping the train using the emergency brake system - so I had to wait on train-station for about fifteen minutes before the engineers gave it the okay to leave the station. It's busy enough at the best of times, but I'm sure you can imagine how many people were squished in like sardines on that tiny station: just brilliant.

Once I was at work though, I had a really great day - it was shaping up quite well, I got a lot done and I had a really great interview with a teacher. Add the fact that I finished at 4pm, and I was in a fantastic mood. One of the girls who works in reception is leaving at the end of the week, so had her goodbye drinks at a local pub up the road, so I spent a few hours there, trying out a few nice English ciders. (Hic.) Just when I thought my bad luck had ended, I gestured a little over enthusiastically with my hands whilst talking to a colleague, and ended up wearing her glass of wine. Thankfully I had a change of clothes in my bag with me, but that didn't help the fact that my bag ended up smelling like a college dorm room. Or that I looked like an idiot in front of my peers.

No-one sat next to me on the train ride home though... and I can't imagine why not.

So there you have it: three sort of minor (yet still horribly annoying) events that almost spoiled my day. As for now? It's time for drunken singing - join in if you know it!

He drinks the whiskey drink, he drinks the vodka drink
He drinks the lager drink, he drinks the cider drink
He sings the songs that remind him of the good times,
He sings the songs that remind him of the better times!

Something Stupid.

I love LOLcats. I love LOLdogs. I love all the LOLanimals in between.

I think the reason they jump out at me so much is because most of the images featured are just brilliant - because they're cute, spontaneous or simply wonderful photographs.



I usually start my morning by checking out the cute critters while I eat my cornflakes. For the most past, you'll find me awwing with the sappiness, squeeing over the cuteness or just plain giggling over the craziness. The captions really do top it all off, so if the caption is lame? I'll skip it fairly quickly and keep searching for the funnies.

Funnies like this one! (Damnit, I'm going to have that song in my head all night long.)

The fact that the captions are written the way they are is fairly unique to the pictures - and I'm all for it, definitely. But I'll tell you what drives me absolutely mad? The way that the comments are written... all in LOLspeak. It's cute on the picture, but the fact that people are taking the time to talk like idiots in the responses, well, it's just weird. And annoying. And irritates the crap out of me for no particular reason.

Your challenge today, should you choose to accept it, is to leave a reply completely in LOLjibberish. Let's see how long it takes before our brains explode into mush.

Not a Bad Monday, Really.

It's currently half term for most of the London schools, so our office hours are a little shorter this week: we're working 9-4pm rather than the usual 9-6:30pm. Instead of heading for home, I decided to head to Oxford Street for a little shopping.

I've become smitten with a cheap as chips store called Primark, where I can get cheap work pants, bras & undies - so that was first stop on my list. I walked away with 45 pounds worth of bits and pieces, including shirts, boxers and socks for Jason PLUS a few more pairs of trousers, tops and lacy knickers for me.

I also stopped into Tiffany's and admired the engagement rings, particularly the one that am completely and utterly smitten with - though felt a wee bit stupid when the saleslady asked me would I like to try it on. Er, it's sad enough that I was even looking at it, trying it on would've made me feel like a complete sad case. It's still beautiful though, don't you think. So sparkly - talk about wishful thinking!

After getting home and doing my usual internet rounds, I was reading this article about the average time it takes for a relationship to go from serious to engagement - the average time is two years, 11 months and nine days, according to this particular study anyway. This led to some huffs of annoyance on my part & some worried looks on Jason's, because hello? Five and a half years! Seriously. SERIOUSLY!

But it did get me thinking - what is the average time frame for the next step? I would've picked around the three year mark as well, I think. What about you?

Whatever Happened to Sunday Google-age?

It's been a really long while since I've whipped out any Google-age on this here blog, which is actually pretty sad. I used to have a ball picking my statistics to pieces and having a laugh at what search terms brought people here, but lately I've lost interest.

Perhaps one day it will come back... when I find a stats program that isn't useless.

*bangs head on laptop screen*

I had a relaxed morning and managed to check a lot of things off my to-do list. First thing was to sleep in and get rid of the nasty headache that had pestered me all day long on our outing yesterday. Thankfully by this morning it had disappeared; only to be replaced with an aching back: Oh body, why doth you hate me so-eth?



The man of the house headed off to church, leaving me to my own devices. I managed to squeeze in a workout, talk to Kirby for a while, clean the bathroom, tidy the bedroom, finish the dishes, and do a couple of loads of laundry. Now? I get to sit in my pink fluffy dressing gown and relax, which makes for a totally perfect Sunday.

Why do weekends go by so quickly? Are you up to anything exciting for yours?

Visiting the Queen & Other Adventures.

In all the hullabaloo that's been going on since February 14th, I completely forgot to mention my very own gift! Not to worry though - as I only received it today. On Valentines Day, Jason instructed me to keep my Saturday free for a surprise.

Unfortunately that surprise involved getting up before 7am in the morning. And did I mention that Jason is terrible at keeping surprises, well, surprises? I'd bugged him with questions and finally cracked him by guessing what we were doing. Turns out he had booked us an all day coach tour, to see Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath.

A little bleary eyed, we made our way to Victoria coach station and joined our tour - where our first stop was to explore Windsor Castle. Jason used to work out this way and walked past the castle every morning to get to work, but I'd not really heard much about it. It was absolutely massive - this is only about a quarter of the site.



The British flag was flying from the roof too, meaning that the Queen was in residence there over the weekend, and I was fairly chuffed. How often can you say that you've been within a short space of royalty? Apparently a couple of the Queen's corgis were taken out here to have a royal wee not long after we left this spot.



After we explored the castle state rooms and grounds, we saw the changing of the guards and went for a walk along the main streets in Windsor. It was utterly freezing today, but still sunny so made for perfect sightseeing weather.

Our next stop was Stonehenge; something I'd wanted to see for years! Last time we were in England, we both said we would leave the trip until the end, but ended up so exhausted after all of our travelling that we never got around to it. It took about an hour in the coach to get to the Salisbury Plain, but we finally made it.



It was pretty incredible - the stones are massive, yet still a lot smaller than I pictured they would be. Apparently over the years, many of them have disappeared, which is sad. It would have been amazing to see them all laid out in their prime.



After a hot chocolate and almond pastry, we had another long drive to Bath - a gorgeous town, with all of the buildings carved out of the same tan limestone. The terrace houses were beautiful, the Avon river was beautiful, and the weather was beautiful - except for the fact that it was so cold, I thought my hands would fall off. We looked around the town centre, before heading into the famous Roman baths.. in Bath. Ha!



I loved hearing the historical aspect of them, but find it very sad that you can't actually use the baths. Not the Roman ones of course, which are there for display only, but you'd think with a natural geothermal hot spring underneath the (very cold) town, that someone would be making use of it aka Rotorua in New Zealand? I wonder if there's a reason for it? Either way, the Roman baths are really interesting.



At the end of our visit here, I decided to do the mandatory toilet stop - and Jason took the camera off me, making fun of the fact that I was about to take it into the bathroom with me. That turned out to be a big mistake though, as each toilet stall had a glass window overlooking one of the outer baths - a perfect tourist free photographic opportunity. Despite the sign reminding its female patrons that the glass was one-way only, it was a wee bit disconcerting dropping my trousers in front of a window!

The drive back to London took over two hours, but was well worth it. We spent just enough time in each landmark, saw heaps, and I loved it to bits. Thanks Jason, for a perfect (if a little belated) Valentines Day present. I love you!

A Virtual Engagement Party Post.

Still speaking of bloggy friends, the lovely Jen from Operation Pink Herring recently went away on a trip to Spain with her man. (Just saying that makes my mouth water with jealousy, seriously.) A few days later she returned... with a shinylicious bit of bling! It needed a little resizing though, so off it went to the jewelers - and poor Jen has been waiting for her precious bling for weeks now!

So Jen, this post is dedicated to you - happy virtual engagement party!

I was reading an article on the Sydney Morning Herald just this morning that seemed fitting: it was highlighting the top places to whip out a ring and pop the question. Here are some of their top tips for proposal locations to remember!


  • Piazza San Marco, Venice

  • Barbados

  • Ku De Ta, Bali

  • Pod on the London Eye (Well, well, well, wouldn't you know....)

  • Krizik Singing Fountain, Prague

  • Eiffel Tower, Paris (March, March, March!)

  • Star Ferry, Hong Kong

  • Empire State Building, New York City (If all else fails, I could propose to myself here when I visit in September of this year!)

  • Sun Valley, Idaho, USA


I must say I'm surprised Spain didn't make the list, but I'm going to add it in anyway.

  • Spain (Woohoo!)


Being the un-engaged, un-wed and un-blingified girl that I am, I can't regale you with any smooshy stories about proposals. Well actually, there was this one time when I was in Europe a few years back, where I'm sure I drunkenly proposed to Jason. Since he rejected my advances though, I don't think it counts. I do admit that lately I've been watching the people around me start making committments and making real plans for the future, and wished I could be doing the same thing.

To be honest though? I think if I think about it too much, it will do my head in.

So in the meantime, I'm going to live vicariously through you guys - meaning I want as many lovey-dovey stories and wedding preparation plans as I can get, please!

Congratulations Jen! I am completely thrilled for you and Joel! (And kitties too!)

Love, With a Hint of Stupidity.

The price of the card I bought for Jason? £3.

The price of the love heart cookie I hid in his backpack? £1.50.

The price of the snazzy dinner ingredients from Marks & Spencers? £15.

The price of the bottle of wine to go with dinner? £7.

The realisation that the wine is corked.. and we don't own a corkscrew?* Priceless.

*Never underestimate the power of a dinner fork, a screwdriver, two pairs of pliers and a strong set of teeth. It doesn't help the fact that we own no wine glasses, though!

Happy Valentines Day, folks! Anything eventful happen to you today?

A Blogging Contest.

One of the things I never realised would have such a huge impact on my life, was the friends I would make through blogging. If you had told me way back when that I would classify a large number of bloggers as good mates, I would have laughed at you.

Alright, maybe I wouldn't exactly have laughed. But I wouldn't have believed you.

One of my favourite bloggers, Juliezilla (aka my bloggy twin) recently had a spiffy revamp done on her blog - wtf have i done?? And to celebrate her new design, she's holding a contest. There are even a couple of prizes involved - bonus!

So what are you waiting for: stop by, ogle her pretty blog, say hello and enter!

Keep in mind though, if you beat me at the contest, I'll cry. I want that third prize.

The Simple Things.

I miss my pillow.

I miss my car.

I miss my animal babies.

I miss my friends.

I miss my family.

But most of all? I miss cooking spray. Seriously. Cooking spray. We can't find it anywhere over here, and I'm sick to death of cooking using oil. It irritates me. Alot.

What's got your goat lately?

Blokey Valentines Ideas.

Before I begin, could any lurkers in the shape of my boyfriend please exit the blog now?

I'm not a huge fan of Valentines Day, but I do like to get into the spirit of the day by having some sort of gift ready for my other half. This year, I'm finding it tricky to come up with something extra special, as I can't really create anything home made this time.

So I'm putting the question out there for you guys to have a chat about;


  • What do you buy the bloke who seemingly has everything?



  • What are you planning on buying your bloke this year?



  • And if you are of the male gender, what would you like to receive?


And for the sake of all things pink, chocolatey and heart-shaped, if you are a Valentines grinch, just pretend we're talking about ... a birthday. The above questions still hold.

Out and About v2.

Could it be; the homebody is finally beginning to get out there and live a little?

This morning there was sunshine for the second day in a row (!) and I had made plans to meet up with one of Jason's workmates and explore the Museum of Natural History.



The museum was absolutely massive, in a stunning building. I wandered around with S for a few hours, checking out a stack of exhibitions. I loved the displays in the raw materials section - it looked so wonderfully artsy that I just had to take a picture of it.



After a few hours, a few more girls dropped by the museum and joined us in our exploring - we headed straight for the dinosaurs, followed by the human body and animal sections. I had a ball ambling around the museum; I would've loved to have had a pedometer attached to my hip because my feet were killing me at the end of the day!



I also had way too much fun with the warped mirrors. (It's the stretchiest camera ever!)



After a late lunch/early dinner in a pub in South Kensington, we made our way into the city to catch the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations - turns out we were a little too late. We missed the fireworks, but went into Trafalgar Square to check out the atmosphere. There were still loads of people around for a Sunday night, a big stage with lanterns everywhere and lots and lots of red signs and decorations. A great sight.



I was born in the Year of the Rat - so I know this year is going to be a fantastic one.

Out and About.

We decided to get out and do some walking today, since we have had a couple of rather lazy weekends over the past few weeks. Jason randomly picked out a London City Walk card, we got our tube tickets ready and off we went. We caught the DLR to Bank station, then the Central line to St Paul's, where we started our journey.

First stop was the magnificent St Paul's Cathedral. I work in Chancery Lane, which is only about ten minutes walk from here, but I've never actually stopped here before.



After walking around the perimeter of the cathedral and narrowly avoiding being run over by an ice cream truck, we wandered across the Milennium Bridge and enjoyed the sunshine. Yes, I said sunshine. Did I mention I was walking around in short sleeves outside and wearing my sunglasses today? Been a while since I've done that!



We strolled along the South Bank, passing the Globe Theatre and Tate Modern. There were loads of people out enjoying the good weather. We walked for a good hour or so.



After we got to Waterloo Station, we caught the tube to Leicester Square. We were meeting some of Jason's workmates for lunch in Chinatown, which was full of people out visiting for Chinese New Year. Gross seafood, yummy pastries.



After our Chinese lunch, we went for another walk, this time down Regent Street. Piccadilly Circus was jam packed with people; I did manage to snap one shot before being pushed along with the crowd across the road. (It looks much better at night.)



Our goal for the afternoon was to visit Hamley's toy store; five levels of toys! The store was brilliant, if I had spare pounds to burn, I could go absolutely crazy in here.



The store was fabulous, though I did wish I could have walked out of there with some goodies. I may not have been able to fit this puppy into my handbag, but he would've looked perfect living here at home on the bed. Anyone feeling the need to buy me presents (cough cough) for any reason, this would be a great place to start!

Snore.

Ever had those nights where you've been meaning to do something, end up staring blankly at the wall and eventually realise a few hours have gone past?

That's me.

I had great plans tonight. To catch up on my blog-friends, to relax for a bit, and to have a night in watching a movie and switching my brain to 'doze' mode. Instead, I've sat here on the lounge and zoned out. For hours. In fact, I'm still zoning out. I think this post must have auto-saved about three hundred times.

Yep. I think I'm done. And this is totally going to be me in five minutes:

Mind the Gap.

A few people commented on the new header that magically appeared on my site yesterday; you didn't actually think I designed it though, did you?

Oh, heck no.

Props go out to Emily, who is the brains behind the header. Go tell her she's awesome.

(Emily, you're awesome!)

I'm so technologically challenged, it's not even funny. I have to say though, the whole 'Mind the Gap' slogan is a bit frightening. I flick to my webpage, and all of a sudden I can hear the lady robot's voice saying it over and over again in my head.

I'm getting much more accustomed to the public transport system here, but that doesn't mean it's particularly wonderful. It's grand when it works, but all hell breaks loose when it doesn't. Thanks to station overcrowding and mechanical failures, the last two mornings have had me waltzing in late to work - because when things break down?

They really break down.

My normal commute time is insanely busy. I leave at around 8am, along with most of London's population (or so it seems!) and spend my morning wedged in under a random stranger's armpit. I leave work between 6-6:30pm, and spend my evening wedged in under a random stranger's armpit. It's a refreshing way to start & end the day.

All whinging aside, as each day passes I feel a little more comfortable with the whole transport system. I know where to stand on the platforms so that I'm right in front of the doors when they open. I know that when one person gets off at a station, that means there are room for five more on the train. I know that just because you're standing at the front of a queue, doesn't mean that people won't try and shove in from behind you. And I know that the minute you take your paws off the handrail to change the song on your Ipod, the train will abruptly stop, sending you flying. Good times!

You Can Look Right Through Me.

Ah, my first theatre production in London - and it all came about so randomly, too.

I've been doing an induction course at work all week, as part of my newbie status. There are a couple of other guys also doing the training who live a few hours north of London, and are staying in the city while they're here. I met D on the first day; we had a nice chat over lunch and she ended up inviting me to see a musical with her later. (She'd just broken up with her ex & wanted to use the tickets he'd bought her. Ha!)

Being the tourist that I am, of course I was up for it. Chicago in London: priceless.



I swear I brushed my hair before I left the apartment, bloody wind. I look horrible. Not to mention PALER than my English friend. What's up with that? It's just not right.

After getting magnificently lost (a talent of mine, I've discovered) trying to walk from D's hotel to Covent Garden, we ended up catching a cab to the theatre, had a glass of wine, and settled in for the show. I love musicals, and thoroughly enjoyed it - I've had 'Mr Cellophane' going around in circles in my head all day long. The female dancers were gorgeous, the male dancers were gorgeous, the singing was fantastic, and I had a ball. Gotta love random friendships and new experiences, that's what life is all about.


Chicago, Cambridge Theatre, Seven Dials, Covent Gardens, London.

Excitement.

No blog writing just now. Just a link, and a SQUEE and an 'I'll update tomorrow.'

GO ON. Click and see where I'm headed tonight!

Hoorah!

The Goodies Near the Dumpster.

Moving across country was tough.
Moving across country with a 20kg weight limit was tougher.
But the toughest thing of all was only bringing a handful of books across with me.

I've been a reader for as long as I can remember. I'm passionate about reading. I believe that a well written book should be enjoyed by you, and then recommended to others. I don't buy into the whole 'popularity' thing with books - to me, if the first few chapters don't interest me, I'll generally move on to something more interesting.

I can't help it. I'm fussy.

You guys gave me a bit of a ribbing when I mentioned books last time - as if I were moving to the end of the world, where there were no bookstores or libraries. Well, I'm yet to find a local library nearby, and the bookstore prices make me cry when I convert things into Australian dollars, so I've been trying my best to find other ways to satiate my book fetish. (Oh, can you imagine the Google hits?)

Finding books for 50p in the market stall in Greenwich a few weeks ago was a great start. I also ordered a couple of books from Amazon (my favourite Aussie author Matthew Reilly has a new book out that I must have) so my tiny stash is growing slowly.

This evening whilst taking out the garbage, I noticed a box on the ground filled with books. A note was pinned to the top: 'Help yourself or they're in the dumpster'. I'm not one to turn down second hand books in good condition... so don't mind if I do! Four novels and a diet book later, and I'm well chuffed.

So thankyou, random book sharer who lives somewhere in my apartment building. You've made this nerdy Australian girl an extremely happy little vegemite bookworm.

A Modern Miracle.

The first time I knew something wasn't quite right with my eyes, was when I was in primary school. Reading from the blackboard went from a regular thing, to something which gave me headaches. Turns out that my eyesight had degenerated, and that I was squinting everytime I tried to see something at a distance. I was prescribed a pair of unbelievably dorky glasses, with instructions to put them on whilst looking at the board, but then take them off again when I was working with things up close.

Not an easy feat for a twelve year old. You can imagine how much I hated them.

Over the years, my shortsightedness got progressively worse. Every eye appointment would usually see me requiring a stronger prescription. Eventually, my short sightedness became severe enough to leave the glasses on all the time. It was about that time when I was introduced to contact lenses, which quickly became my best friend. Most people who have never had a problem with their sight have absolutely no comprehension of what life can be like on the other side of the lens. You can't swim. You can't wear sunglasses. You can't read street signs. You can't see faces, rather a blurry haze.

Almost a year ago, I underwent advanced laser eye surgery. It wasn't cheap and it wasn't particularly pleasant, but it's one of the best decisions I have ever made. My vision is not a hundred percent, but it's a hundred percent better than it was. It's too early to tell what the longevity of laser eye surgery is - who knows how my eyesight will be in another year's time. Who knows how it will be in another 10 years, or 50?

All I know is that every morning when I open my eyes and can actually see the world around me, I count my blessings. And that I will never ever take that for granted.

Joyeux Anniversaire!

I bought Jason a birthday present earlier today. His birthday is not until May.

I'm a wee bit keen, I know.

It's not even a surprise present. He knows I've bought it.. and what he's getting.

Why?

The reasoning behind it is because it involved a little pre-planning. And a little pre-purchasing, too. Since my new job doesn't give me as much time off as teaching does, long weekends are few and far between. The next one is over Easter in March, so I've snatched it up, marked it on the calendar and am spoiling the boy in advance.

We're going to PARIS!

Three nights, four days, one centrally located hotel, Euro Disney and a whole lot of sight seeing. I'm so excited, I can hardly stand it - and it's not even my birthday.

Happy (early) Birthday, Jason. And thanks for paying for your present on your credit card .. I promise I'll be paying you back soon. *snickers*

A Thought That Occurred To Me This Morning.

I would have to say that I've been just as up close and personal with random strangers on the tube as I have with my long term boyfriend. How's that for personal space?

Lurking.

I can barely even start this post, because I am about to smack someone.

Actually, scratch that. I am going to smack someone. Be right back.

Right. It's done. Feeling better now.

What the heck am I getting so annoyed about? It's the dreaded L-word.

My dear boyfriend is a lurker. I'm not just talking about the kind of lurker who reads your blog but never comments, even though he meets that criteria. No, he is the kind of lurker who quite literally reads over my shoulder all of the time. I don't think he quite 'gets' why I blog, but that doesn't stop him from sticking his nose in.

(You know our relationship has got to be pretty awesome when the most annoying thing I can bring up is him actually showing an interest in my blog writing.)

But it truly does drive me mental. Such a trivial thing, but whenever he starts peering at my screen whilst I'm typing, I get the overwhelming urge to clobber him. I reckon if he's going to lurk, he should be forced to comment every now and again. It's the least he could do, since his lurking means I can't really whinge about him.. too much.

How about you - does your significant other read your writing? And if you're significant other-less, would you particularly want them to know about it?





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