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I love and am married to a man despite the fact that he does not share — even in a single, tiny way — the deep and abiding devotion that I have for The Royal Tenenbaums and Lou Reed.

I should get a Nobel prize for this.

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Richard and I have finally finished planning our much-delayed honeymoon and are now scheduled to depart in mid-March for England and then Spain.

The honeymoon itself was delayed due to the fact that we had out-of-state and out-of-country visitors in town for the wedding and wanted to spend time with them, since they’d traveled all that way to see us.   Richard’s poor brother alone traveled for fifty (50!!!) hours straight to get to miserable old Houston for the wedding, stopping on three different continents along his way (see: ways not to travel to Houston from Perth).  Then there was the whole hands-on aspect of the wedding itself (pfft…who needs a wedding planner?), which necessitated a lot of actual work on my part — both before and after — and wasn’t conducive to just jetting off somewhere afterwards.

So, here we are, two and half months later, and we’ve finally booked all of our flights and hotels and rental cars and have even started scouring stores for some good boots for me to trek around the frozen tundra of northern England in.  Here’s the itinerary:

March 21:  Depart Houston for Manchester.  Arrive nearly fourteen hours later, delirious from airplane-induced claustrophobia and possibly escorted by air marshals after slapping parents of small children who are misbehaving.  Go immediately to pub for drink.

March 22:  Adjust to massive time difference while learning to drive on wrong side of road; will send pictures of ensuing wreckage for all to enjoy.  After crashing car, take train from Alderley Edge (where we’ll be bunking down in Richard’s parents’ country home — sans parents, of course) into Manchester city centre and take in the sights.

March 23 – 25:  Trundle around England by car, train or foot, visiting assorted friends in Chester and Macclesfield.  Tour The Theatre of Dreams and surrounding Trafford Centre.  Drink lots and lots of lager.  Find and eat an entire wedge of Stilton.  Have proper doner kebab and chip-shop curry, preferably late at night after tastebuds have been numbed by Boddington’s.  Visit Richard’s grammar school and grumble while he tells me about its founding in 1502 and how I “don’t know what old really means.”  Sit by some roaring fires.  Amuse people with my heavy Texas accent.  Tour stately homes.  Go shopping for English groceries to smuggle home in luggage.  Attempt to survive extended periods in abysmally cold weather.  Have fun.

March 26:  Depart Manchester for Alicante.  Visit Richard’s parents at their home in Torrevieja.

March 27 – 28:  Enjoy relatively balmy Mediterranean climate.  Relax.

March 29:  Depart Alicante for Manchester.  Depart Manchester for Houston.

March 30:  Collapse, exhausted, into bed.  Wake up mere hours later to find ourselves back in real world and back to work.

I’ll try to bring some fish and chips back for you all, but no promises.

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If you’d been at Barnes and Noble last Saturday around 6pm, you could have witnessed me skulking shamefully around a section of the store that I normally avoid like the plague: the dreaded Romance section.

I’d taken my sweet little grandmother to the bookstore that evening just to get her out of the house for a while. I don’t know her to be a big reader, aside from People and Southern Living, but I figured we’d give it a shot. I asked her if she’d like to get a book or two while we were there. She paused in thought before saying, “You know, I used to love to read. But your granddaddy hated for me to read because I’d get so involved in a book…”

“Well,” I said, “Then we need to get you a book and get you back in the game!” She smiled and nodded her head. “What do you like?” I asked.

“Oh, I like detective novels. Gothic detective novels.”

Okay, that’s a bit specific. Hmm. I don’t read detective novels except for the occasional Elmore Leonard, and I don’t really think she’d like those. I steered her over to the Mystery section of the store, where she stood stupified.

“There’s so many of them! How do I choose?” The bright covers and multiple displays seemed to be sensory overload for her and she stepped away, turning back to the magazine section of the store.

“Okay, wait. We don’t have to get a detective novel; what else do you like?”

“Um…I like romance stories.”

Good grief. What?

“You like…romance novels? Like Danielle Steel?” I queried tentatively.

“No, not like that. Gothic romance novels.”

Again with the Gothic obsession! What is this? Where did this even come from? Jesus, I really hope that she’s not talking about some scary-ass A. N. Roquelaure-type novels. But it got even more specific…

12626430.jpg“I like romance novels with knights and castles.”

Whew. That seems a little tamer.

“Okay, let’s see what we can find for you, then.” I hesitantly placed myself fully in front of the romance shelves, my eyes shifting back and forth to make sure that no one I knew was around. I started picking books off the shelves according to whether or not they had flowery imagery on their spines. I figured, the flowerier the better and the less tawdry (hopefully).

“I don’t have my reading glasses. Can you read the backs of the books to me?” she asked expectantly.

Oh, dear God. Her hearing is terrible; I’m going to have to read these really loudly.

“Okay, here goes…’Headstrong Lady Portia Derring has an impeccable pedigree . . . and not a penny to her name. Which is why she is alone on the rain-swept Yorkshire moor, waiting for a wealthy earl she has never met but whom her family insists she wed. When she’s nearly trampled by the blackguard’s stallion, Portia is more determined than ever to refuse Heath Moreton’s suit. Handsome devil he may be, but she could never marry a rogue who’s so clearly out of control!'” I flinched with nearly every word.

“Ooh, that one sounds good! What about the next one?”

“‘Though she has yet to be courted by any man, spirited Gillyanne Murray decides the time has come to visit the dower lands gifted to her by her father’s kinsmen. She arrives to find the small keep surrounded by three lairds, each one vying for her hand.and property. Though resolved to refuse them all, the threat of battle on her threshold forces her to boldly choose a suitor: Sir Connor MacEnroy, a handsome, daring knight of few words. As his wife, Gillyanne is stunned by his terse, cold distance-and her own yearning to feel passion in his arms. Now, bringing her healing touch to a land and a keep ravaged by treachery and secret enemies, she dares to reach out for the one thing she fears she may forever be denied.her husband’s closely guarded heart.'” This was truly painful to read, and people were beginning to stare.

“I like the sound of that one, too!”

“Great — let’s get these two, then, and get you home so you can start reading them!”

“Well, what about those others? What are those about?”

And so it went, for another fifteen minutes. I gave a public reading of the descriptions of a large sampling of Zebra Historical Romance novels as the emo kids sitting in the Graphic Novels section openly snickered at me and the hipsters in the Poetry section eyed me with disdain.

My grandmother finally chose the first two novels I’d read from, nullifying any need for me to have read the others. I hurried her up to the cash register and we left, the shame of simply reading descriptions of such trash burning my literary soul.

The next morning, I called to check on the progress of her books. “How are they so far?”

“They’re awful. I can barely read this junk!”

Such is life.

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After spending a large chunk of the [rainy, cold and drizzly] afternoon watching “America’s Most Smartest Model” and then reading the recaps on TWoP (good gravy-fed God, I’m a dork!) I felt the need to purge some of my other guilty pleasures into the keyboard and onto the screen, in hopes that I’m not the only one who feels utterly compelled yet dirty after watching/listening to/reading/doing the following things:

  • Riskay’s “Smell Yo Dick” — This song is seriously disgusting and unabashedly ghetto.  So why can’t I stop listening to it?  Because it’s hilarious, that’s why.  Listen for yourself.
  • Love Actually, two parts of it in particular which I’ve been known to rewatch several times in a row:
    • The entire scene where Jamie tracks down Aurelia in Marseilles, first by going to her father’s house and then walking to her restaurant with the entirety of Little Portugal trailing along behind him discussing how Aurelia is going to be sold into slavery or killed by this Englishman.  And then the proposal in the restaurant, with Jamie’s adorably horrible Portugese: “I’ve come here with a view to asking you to marriage me…”
    • The Mark and Juliet scene where he shows up at her doorstep with the flashcards and carol singers on his CD player, telling her that he’ll love her until she looks like a decrepit mummy.  Who wouldn’t fall in love with this?  Mark is far cuter than Peter, anyway.  Hee!

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  • The Darkness’ “I Believe In A Thing Called Love,” even though its brief moment was over about three years ago.
  • The new BTVS Season 8 graphic novels.  Ohhhhh, yes.  Yessirree.  I AM that huge of a dork, there is absolutely no doubt about it.  Richard was too embarassed to accompany me to the “graphic novels” section of Barnes & Noble when I went to get the first volume.  He just hung around the “sports” section, eyeing me warily and shifting his weight nervously, hoping that no one would see his wife greedily grabbing a book out of the D&D section of the store.  I don’t care; they’re the best continuation of a beloved-yet-cancelled show since Serenity.  If you happen to be a Buffy fan and have somehow missed the memo on the graphic novels, you should check them out.  They’re everything a Whedon-phile could have hoped for.
  • And on that note, Moonlight.   This is probably the most embarassing guilty pleasure of all.  I have not one single friend who watches this and my entire family is very vocally ashamed of my inexcusable lack of taste when it comes to this show.  But I can’t help it.  It’s just the right amount of camp — not too over-the-top, tongue firmly planted in cheek.  Plus, it’s got a good bit of eye candy and, really, what else do I have to do on a Friday night?  Sadly, nothing.
  • Good blue cheese, by itself.  Well, maybe on a piece of endive for some crunch.  But definitely not with any crass interlopers, like crackers.  I just like the bare taste of an incredibly strong, salty, sharp Roquefort or Stilton.  Again, none of my other friends or family members seem to share this predilection, which often means that I get an entire wedge of blue cheese to myself.  And believe you me, I WILL EAT THE WHOLE DAMN THING.
  • TaB cola.  I once wrote an entire blog on how much I still love the 80s sensation that was TaB.  I’m sure you can find it if you poke around on here long enough…  TaB is like Diet Coke without the awful aftertaste of NutraSweet.  When I go into the store to buy TaB, there is usually one sad, little pink box among the masses of other Coca-Cola products, sitting dusty and alone towards the back of the shelf.  But it’s been waiting for me…maybe for months, who knows?…and I’m finally here for it.  The various clerks always give me the same look at the checkout stand: So that’s the weirdo who buys the one six-pack of TaB that we ship in every month.  Yes, that’s me.
  • And lastly — for now, at least — all of the following websites:

What are your guilty pleasures?

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Last post of the day, I swear.

When Richard’s family were over here last week, we had several very interesting discussions with them regarding whether or not they’d ever move back to England permanently.  For both his mother and stepfather (who live in a villa in Spain, but keep a house back in Cheshire) as well as his brother (who moved to Oz three years ago), the answer was a resounding “no.”

They had differing reasons as to why — for his mother and stepfather it was the alarming and steady rise in crime as well as the dreary weather, while for his brother it was the lower cost of living and higher quality of life in Oz — but all three agreed that they wouldn’t be moving back to the U.K. any time soon.

This article was written over a year ago, but it’s sad to see that the trend of British emigration hasn’t been stemmed at all in that time:

They flock unstoppably through Britain’s border crossings, thousands every week, posing a threat to social, demographic, and economic stability, according to some.

But this is not another verdict on the perils of immigration. This is about people moving in the opposite direction. Surprisingly, for a country obsessed about immigrants, Britons are emigrating in record numbers.

Official data show that more than 350,000 people leave the country every year, up almost 50 percent from 10 years ago. A recent BBC survey remarkably found that 13 percent of people said they were hoping to emigrate in the near future – double the figure from a similar survey conducted three years ago.

At least 4.5 million Britons – about 8 percent of the population – now live abroad, a far bigger diaspora in percentage terms than those of other rich countries like France, Germany, and the US. Those anxious about rising immigration numbers should take note: more Britons now live overseas than the number of foreign nationals resident in Britain.

Be sure to click the link above for the full, fascinating article. 

Richard has expressed little interest in going home in the five years that I’ve known him.  Sure, we’d like to go back to visit someday soon, but aside from the sweet, fleeting memories of his childhood at boarding school and laddish nights spent down the pub, I’m not sure that we’ll ever end up there either.  He’s become too attached to the lower taxes, the easy ability to own two cars if one so desires, the far superior health insurance (sorry, Socialists) and the sunny attitude of his now fellow Americans.

In fact, as long as I can learn to cook Cornish pasties and steak & kidney pies, I don’t think the man will ever need to go home again.

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I type exceedingly fast.  I also have a high degree of accuracy when typing.  With these two skills working in harmony, I am like a typing virtuoso.  I’m not trying to brag, I’m just stating a few facts.  I enjoy typing; combined with my love of language and writing, typing gives me a sense of having completed something important, even if it’s just an RFP or an e-mail announcement.  I am such a fluid typist that people call others over to watch me type, as if I were a trained monkey who’s learned to sign.  I credit all of this (as well as my impressive 10 key skills) to Mavis Beacon and her addictive line of typing software.

As a child, I was obsessed with my Mavis Beacon program.  I would play it constantly on our home computer, even thought it can’t technically be called a “game.”  I kept track of my high scores on the 10 key grocery bagging exercise and the repetitive typing Ferrari racing exercise, and became ultra-competitive with myself as the months and years went on.  I even printed out the excessively useless “Certificates of Achievement” on our old black and white dot matrix printer and displayed them proudly at my desk.

However, Mavis Beacon has a dark side. (more…)

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Mas Fotos

I’m back for a quick post of…you guessed it!…more unofficial photos from the wedding. My cousin Sharon is to thank for the majority of these.  Enjoy!

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The very first self-portrait of the bride and groom after the wedding ceremony. (more…)

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