Welcoming in 2013

We welcomed in the new year in style! Dinner at our favorite local dim sum place with a glass or two of sake and a cocktail at the upstairs bar, than back home for a night of drinks and watching all the appropriate tv with our guests, Dave and Penny. There was champagne and baked cheese and I learned all about Jools Holland’s “Hootenanny”. It was no Dick Clark, and no ball drops at midnight (and my three English compatriots definitely laughed at me when I mentioned balls dropping), but there were fireworks at midnight over the sea and we sang auld lang syne in our living room, arms wrapped around each other, so the evening gets a thumbs up from me despite today’s champagne induced hangover.

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An Expat Thanksgiving

Working on Thanksgiving was weird. Not terrible, but not cool. People kept wishing me “Happy Thanksgiving”, which was quite sweet, but that kept reminding me of what I should have been doing! Anyway, on the actual Thanksgiving I came home and Jon and I had a little roast dinner and some wine-but then he left me to go to a work party he was hosting. In a word: lame.  I stayed in, out of the rain and wind and listened to Alice’s Restaurant while chopping up a million cranberries. But on Friday I finished work at lunchtime and rushed home to get my cookin’ on: green bean casserole, classic dressing, and the rest of the jalapeno-cranberry dip, and we headed for the train to Hassocks.

I have, and always will, love trains. (In case you were wondering). And trains around the holidays? Magical as all get-out.

Our fabulous hosts for the evening were Colin and Jess, friends of ours who are also half-English (Colin) and half-American (Jess). Although, to be fair, Jess went to uni here and they own a house, so her expatriation has been far more settled than mine so far, and she misses the States much less, I think. She’s got 10 years in England on me! Kal and Amy joined us later, and it was a great night-they’d found a torrent of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for us to watch and laugh at, and there was wine and all the important food-Jon even did a chicken wrapped in bacon. Because he’s fancy, and he likes bacon, and turkey is just…meh. Jess made pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin pie, and then we played Apples to Apples until it was time to make our way back to the station and call it a night.

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Dear friend

I miss this lady.

When I was in Ohio in September-which, whoa, how was that seriously nearly 2 months ago now?- this beautiful woman was totally down for hangouts at the drop of a hat. We’ve got the sort of friendship thing going at this period of life where I know that nothing important will change between us because I’m away, and that we can pick up where we’ve left off, no matter how long it’s been since our last face to face. And at this time in my existence, and with the whole “up and moved sticks to the UK” thing, it’s also nice knowing that she is one of my few friends who isn’t completely devoted to a landlocked American life (aka, you can bet your ass we’ll be seeing each other not just in Ohio during this lifetime). I would never deign to only be friends with people who travel (never never), but it’s so reassuringly wonderful to know when you’ve got a few comrades that you can be counted on to meet here and there around the way-and it’s not all on my shoulders to keep friendships alive. I really appreciate that. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Anyway, with a busy week nearly behind me, I found myself looking at photos tonight from that visit. September seems far away. And I just have to say I miss my friend.

In January we will drink drinks and have talks and do alllll the thrifting. I am thinking of you.

Birthday’d

Yesterday was lovely. I turned 28 on a sunshiney, chilly day in Brighton, and Jon and I had what we like to call a “good Brighton day”, where we just sort of wander around and enjoy all the weird and fabulous stuff happening in this city (a walk by the beach? check. shirtless dudes even though it’s barely 60 degrees  out? check. parade of activists going down the street, in this case chanting “meat is murder”? checkity check) We made our way over to some sort of arts festival that I never caught the name of, but that Jon thought would be right up my alley-he’s always right. This was after birthday pancakes and presents of course:)

I somehow managed to keep myself from buying books at this festival (as they always have used book sellers, and I can rarely say no), but I’ve got too many to-read books as it is in my house, and even cheap books aren’t as good as free books from the library, amirite? We did, however, purchase a screen print from a local artist featuring a whale saying hello in Welsh. Looking forward to framing that in our little abode!

Birthday part two was a bit more exciting. Jon surprised me with reservations at a cool little wine bar in town, and I loved it. Some of our friends met up with us there, and we caught up with Colin’s stories from his recent trip to Japan, and talked of other things. Eventually we moseyed over to the North Laines Brewery and colored some free children’s coloring pages while I drank cherry stout and enjoyed being an old lady. I was a little disappointed that no one could be bothered to go dancing or karaoking with me, but c’est la vie-people aren’t as crazy as they used to be in their early 20s, I guess!

The finished product of all our hard work. 

And this guy might be in this year’s Christmas card, perhaps with photoshopped santa hats and elves all around us…

The night ended with a visit and a drink at our friend/neighbor Lois’ place. She’s a fellow October birthday girl and we bid adieu to my birthday at midnight as we ushered hers right on in. I have to admit I was feeling a bit melancholy about the whole thing-not about getting older, but about only having Jon with me, and none of my old friends or family around. It was…a little emotional at times, which surprised me. But overall it was a nice day, and I’m a lucky lady.

How I looked on the way home.

Peace out 27! You were…okay, I guess. On to bigger and better things!

A country wedding

This is what happens when one of your oldest friends gets married, and you dance the night away with another one of your oldest friends and then thriller comes on:

thriller dance ashley joebeautiful faces

Joe and I, we’ve got moves. And we were basically stone cold sober for this whole thing, so none of our sweet skills can be blamed on alcohol consumption-we just like to get down! Some of us (I won’t name names but it wasn’t me) had toooo much fun at this gorgeous gathering, but overall the night was unforgettable and perfect and I’m glad my lady friend got the wedding she deserved-even though a crazy storm and subsequent temperature drop of nearly 20 degrees threatened to derail the whole thing! Perils of an outdoor wedding, I guess. But I think it was worth it to have the chance to get married on her parents lovely property in the middle of the Ohio corn fields/forest/other greenery.

With the bride and groom at their rehearsal dinner.

She’s a beauty. 

My handsome date.

And one last picture of Joe and I. We have been one another’s go-to wedding dates over the past several years and we always have a good time, always tear up the dance floor, and usually look pretty fancy while doing it. Case study 1 and 2 and 3.

I know I say this often, but I seriously, honestly, love a good wedding. Love.

Kellie and Rachel

Once upon a time it was 2003 and I moved into a dorm room with too many people in too small of a space on a big ol’ college campus. And in that dorm were plenty of nice girls, but only a few that I still love with all my heart and who return my affections, even knowing how completely stupid I was when I was 19. And 20. And 21 (loooord, 21, when every “good” American girl really comes out of her shell and spends more nights than anyone should spend in cheap bars). And so on and so forth. Rachel lives in North Carolina now, Kellie’s still in Columbus, but Rachel drove over to hang out and tell old stories and eat brunch and walk around with Kellie and I (and Jon, that wonderful partner of mine who doesn’t mind baring witness to friends catching up and telling all the same old tales of embarassment and youthful revelry).

These are the people most used to me and my ever-present camera. (Plus Lindsey, too).

While walking back to our cars after brunch at Tasi-Columbus people, go there! You will love it!-we came across this giant metal Ohio sign outside one of the antique shops. It obviously once belonged to a car dealership, and I wish I had had the space or expendable income to purchase it. Surely it was only outside anyway because it was a game day. The attempt of O-H-no I just another-O is now permanently ensconsed in (digital) film.

O-HO!

OHO!

Ah dear friends. Till we meet again. It won’t be soon enough.

Firepits and friends

We spent not one, but two nights last week soaking up the smokey goodness that is a solid backyard firepit. Both Nia and her dude, and Evie and her dude have this little slice of backyard heaven in their respective abodes, and Jon and I were more than happy to join them for drinks and s’mores and all that good stuff. Two nights in a row! Woo! Thanks you guys!

At Nia and Jeff’s we made s’mores with hershey’s kisses because that’s what we had on hand. They have a crazy cute puppy that is 3/4 English bulldog and 1/4 something else not bulldog but still totally adorable. And that little dog is a freak, and loves beer so much that she jumped on Jon’s lap to grab his bottle with her tiny paws and have at it.

Nothing like a good fuzzy picture via manual settings in the dark with a DSLR.

Evie and Nick had us over for dinner the following night. Homegirl can make a hella good chili/cornbread combo, and I will never stop swooning over her exposed-bricked mid-century awesome house, coupled with her ability to always have her hair up in interesting and fabulous ways (coming from my long hippy-haired self, I wish I took the time to cultivate such skill). Reading that back it sounds incredibly superficial, but um…it’s not? It’s not. I wish we had Evie and Nick doppelgangers in Brighton to hang out with. They are wonderful people.

Ghost-face Evie.

Not to be a broken record-I’m totally a broken record-but it’s thinking over nights like these that at once make me so homesick for a life in Ohio with evening hang outs and chit-chat, and at the same time so fucking grateful for friends that will invite my transient ass over to their beautiful homes when I am in town. I am so lucky and thankful for their love and conversation and presence.