Four more years!

I am unapologetically political, and I know this. Living and travelling abroad as an American isn’t always the easiest thing to do. I first went abroad during the Bush years, and I can’t even recall all the crazy questions I’ve been asked about “what Americans do/think/say/have” since I first left my native shores-although the responses and questions since Obama was elected the first time have been much more positive.There are so many stereotypes that plague Americans, many of them less than grand, and it has been a goal of mine to always be as exemplary as I can be in order to change people’s idea of what an American is and does. Not that I am some prime American citizen or something, but I want it to be known that not all of us love guns, hate women, are racist, know nothing about other countries/cultures, can’t be bothered to learn other languages, have no interest in world politics, etc etc etc. I’m the butt of a lot of jokes, and I’m loud and an American stereotype in other ways (blonde, chatty, chants “USA! USA!” in public places, likes potatoes mashed not roasted) but I’d like to think (and I have been told) that I am a good face for America when I’m not there. I’m proud of that. I will continue to try to be a positive example of what can come from my country.

This election had me a nervous wreck. My own absentee ballot didn’t show up, even though I sent for it over a month and a half ago, so I was forced to do a write-in at the last minute. I really wasn’t sure which way things would go, and last night as I sat up past midnight watching the election results come in, with the BBC on TV, every media website open on my laptop, and PBS streaming in my ear, I just hoped for the best. And for me, the best possible outcome had happened when I woke up this morning. I am incredibly proud of my country. I’m proud to call Barack Obama my president, and I’m proud of my home state for swinging in a way that means the best for our nation. No politician can ever do everything perfectly, and the USA will never be the socialist mecca I want it to be (jokes!) but Obama respects me, he respects women, he respects gay and lesbian citizens, and he is the best choice to move this country forward. This is progress. I look forward to a magnificent 4 years.

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.

Ohio flashback: Kingwood Center in Mansfield, Ohio

I can’t believe this was so long ago now, but looking back at these pictures of our visit to Kingwood Center in Ohio I’m reminded of a lovely day wandering amid late summer greenery with my husband and my mom, and that’s pretty cool. In comparison, today Brighton was blanketed in the thickest fog you’ve ever seen. It was eerie and seasonally appropriate and summer could not feel further away.

Jon made friends with all sorts of birds, strangely enough. Ducks and peacocks, and a goose or two. Even though he usually doesn’t have the best luck with birds…true story. He has multiple “attacked by avian beings” stories, and it’s weird. Apparently Ohio birds don’t hate him.

Ahhh romance…

Hi mom!

Nearly ten years ago I actually had some of my high school senior pictures taken here (non-American readers, those are pictures you take before graduating from high school. Everyone has them and they are cheesy yet awesome and soooo good to hold on to and show your incredulous future husband at some point). Another thing I can’t believe was as long ago as it was (whoa, that’s a messy sentence!)-high school, man. Ten years ago I finished it. What? Anyway, I had to recreate (sort of, ha) one of my senior pics in the actual spot it was taken. See?

Week 2 of CELTA is proving to be as exhausting as the first, with more and more piling on. One of the women in our class dropped out today. Gotta keep on powering through though….chug chug chug. And now, back to lesson planning…

Loved Ones

Oh, the fam. The thing about going to Ohio was that I saw more of my family in two weeks than I normally do in 6 months-wait, in this case 9 months. That’s kind of how we roll. But that also turned into everyone wanting lots of pictures, and what better place to put those pictures than this place of mine on the internet.

Look at how cute my niece is! And her hair is my color, which I love, and which my sister hates. I bought her a cool Viewfinder-type toy when we were in Paris in June. The pictures inside are all Parisian vignettes-the Eiffel Tower in the sun and at night, the Champs Elysee, Montmartre, stuff like that. I gave it to her while we were visiting and she kept pretending it was a camera and making us look in it. When we left, my sister told me that Ry continued to look into and exclaim “It’s Jon and Ashley!”. How adorable is that? Kids man…they’re funny. Double rainbow in Crestline! It seemed that the whole street ran out to see. I was disappointed to see that most just took a picture with their fancy phones, then ran back inside, undoubtedly to share their newly taken photo. I, on the other hand stood on the porch for a long time, until it went away. It was a nice moment. But then, I took a picture too so I guess I suck just as much as everyone else. 

Probably another contender for the Sheets-Norris holiday 2012 card:

The other funny thing about taking a trip like that is that so many of the pictures are ultra posed, to the point of ridiculousness. Like, a hundred of interchangeable pictures of me with my hand on my hip, cheesin’ like a fool next to someone I think is great. There is a particularly cheesy photo of Jon and I with my dad and stepmom in front of the piano, but I don’t know if they’d approve of it being put on the internet so I’ll refrain from posting it on here. Sorry dudes, it’s a total keeper.

And this, I love…

…Jon being weird while my niece forces my pregnant sister to play with her/pokes her in the eye. (And let it be known that I’m not posting pictures featuring my sister because she hates having her picture taken whilst pregnant so I’m sortakinda respecting that. There is, however, one phone picture of us that I posted over here).

Family, ya’ll.

Screw it, I’m posting the piano picture. Look at Jon!

Hahaha, it’s so great!

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.