A Look Back at 2007

There is something about the end of the year that causes reflection. It makes me think about the year past; the good times, the bad times, the changes, etc. It makes me think about how I want to live my life in the future, due to past triumphs and failures. 2007 has been a good year; a busy year; a year of change. Here are some of the highlights of the year past:

January - This was a busy month for me. Due to a "wonderful" idea of mine, I was still working three jobs...7 days a week, morning to night. Not the best of ideas that I have had!

February - I did a lot of traveling for work, going to both Arkansas and Nevada for a week. In Arkansas, I got to hang out with my brother Jeremy, which was nice. Binky, my dog-sister of 18 years died. That was hard on my family. You dog-haters out there wouldn't understand, but it was sad. But, Ian and I also added to our family with Riley, a Yorkshire Terrier.

March - I took my fourth trip to Cambodia with my mom and a group of ladies. It proved to be another wonderful time, playing with the kids at the orphan homes, traveling around the country and hanging with my mom. Also, Ian and I took a weekend trip up to Mammoth for a day of nice snowboarding. Riley got to hang out in the snow and go into restaurants with us in her undercover dog purse.

April - My birthday month! I turned the big 2-6! My parents, Josh, Courtney and Tanner came to Pasadena to celebrate. Ian and Josh tiled our upstairs bathroom...starting a bathroom re-finishing project that took Ian and I two months to complete! Ian and I also took an extended weekend visit to San Francisco. It was nice to be back in the city that we had many a dates together before we were married.

May - May brought the huge decision of moving to Scotland. At the time, I don't think I really thought it all the way through how much it would really affect my life...ha, ha! I also got to go to Hawaii for work! Such a rough life!

June - Ian and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary at Club 33 in Disneyland ...actually the Club had some problems and had to close down that night, so we had to re-schedule for another time, but we still got to hang out at Disneyland!

July - With July came a vacation. Ian and I headed up the coast and camped in Big Sur for a few days. I didn't think Riley would be the outdoorsy type of dog, but she seemed to love the dirt! We also wondered over to Modesto for the 4th with the Grimbleby's.

August - We spent the better part of the month packing up our house and moving out, which proved to be quite stressful. Ian left in the middle of the month for Scotland. I finished packing up the house, gave the keys to the renters, finished up working at Foursquare and started visiting and saying good bye to family and friends (and my wonderful car).

September - I arrived in Scotland on September 1st. That week Ian and I made a trip down to London for his work. I got a job at the 'bucks two weeks after arriving. And we got settled down into our new home.

October - This month really proved to be a month of getting used to my new home. I began really learning what life in another county is like. Also, our stuff finally arrived from the states, which meant I no longer had to wear the same clothes over and over and that we now had a couple things to hang on our walls.

November - Ian and I went home for Thanksgiving. It was nice to be stateside, even if for just a few days. It was a good time of visiting family and friends and shopping! Me, my mom, my sister-in-law Courtney and my sister-in-law Carli, got up early and hit the sales on Black Friday. It was actually quite the fun adventure. People take shopping way too seriously!

December - Ian and I took a trip out of town to York, England. It was nice to get out of Edinburgh and hang out in another city for a couple days. We meandered our way through the city, hung out in bookstores and drank many a warm drinks (coffee, tea, hot chocolate, etc.) December also saw the first Christmas Ian and I spent away from our families. We went to church on Christmas morning for breakfast and a small service. Then we came back home and made our own Christmas dinner. Even though it was sad not to be with our families, it was kind of fun to make our own dinner and celebrate together.

The year really was an adventure for us...an adventure I am still getting used to! But, I am looking forward to another year and all the adventures it has in store for me.

Merry Christmas!

So, even though most of you in the states are still tucked warmly in your beds, my Christmas is well under way. Ian and I got up this morning and went to church for some breakfast and Christmas carols. Then we came home, started the turkey and opened our presents. And now here I am, playing on my computer.

Today in church, I started thinking about the meaning of Christmas...Jesus' birth. When Jesus was born, not many people knew and not many people cared. Yet, think of the impact that his birth had on everyone. It was so significant, yet treated so insignificantly. Somehow thousands of years later, Christmas has become all about trees, lights, presents, food and family. Now, I am not saying that I don't love Christmas, because I do. But, when I really think about what it is about, I start to wonder how it came to become what it is today. Any ideas?

Below is a little Christmas story for your enjoyment:

Meet Mr. Snowman. He is hanging out in York, England...having so much fun.

Enjoying the day; seeing the sights.

Spending time with Ian.

Hanging out with Jessica...

Wait! Jessica! What are you doing?!?

What has happened to me? I am missing part of my head. This can't be good...

Am I Old?

How do I know if I am old? There will always be someone out there that I am older than; yet on the opposite end, there will always be someone out there that I am younger than. Working at the 'bucks, I am constantly asked how old I am. Most people are shocked to find out 1. that I am 26 and 2. that I am married. When I ask people how old they thought I was, they usually say anywhere between 19-21. When I ask why, I have received such answers as "because of your sunny disposition", "because of your energy" and more. What does this mean? Does it mean that I act younger than I really am? I still haven't decided if I should take people thinking I am young as a blessing or not. I think it is a good thing to look young, but to act young is a whole other thing! No one has actually come out and said that I act young, but still what does it mean to have a "sunny disposition"? I don't want to be seen as immature, but I don't want to be old either.

Sometimes I feel old. I don't have the energy and stamina that I used to. I also think "old" thoughts. I think about how my actions will affect my future. I think about saving for retirement. I think about where Ian and I should "settle down". I think about when we should have a family. I think about if I would be a good mom or not. I think about my career (or lack of) and what I should do with my life. I think about what I should make for dinner. I think about cleaning the house, doing the laundry and more. Yet, I watch MTV, play on the internet, use myspace and facebook, talk on the phone to my friends for long periods of time, stay up late, care about what people think of me, love shopping and buying expensive things, and so much more...

Yet still I ponder, am I old?

A Mini Update

I feel like so much has gone on in the last few days and I just want to share it with you all. First, I faced my coldest day yet here in Edinburgh. It was -9 Celsius yesterday. It was cold! I opened at the 'bucks yesterday and when I open, due to bus schedules, I have to wait for 20 minutes for the manager to arrive. Knowing it was cold, I dressed warm...think multiple layers! Then, I hunkered down in front of the store and waited. I would like to say that except for a small section of my legs, I was plenty warm outside! Go me! The newspapers had already been delivered, so I did have a warm and semi-soft surface to sit on. It has been so cold the last couple days that even without precipitation, the sidewalks are icy and slippery. But, back to my update...

This past weekend, Ian and I went to the German Christmas Village in the middle of town. It was so fun. They sold all sorts of food. And, being a sauerkraut lover, the food was a paradise for me! The Christmas village was so full of people that at times, we couldn't even move. It was great! Though the line was too long for Ian and I to go ice skating, we did go on the ferris wheel, which was great fun.

Yesterday, my status at work went from just "crazy American" to "crazy American training coach". That's right. The next person we hire will be under the great care of Jessica! This person should be scared and excited all at the same time. My manager reiterated to me how good my bossiness is. Some of you may not agree, but I think she is right! But, of course I would! Basically she was just saying that it shows me taking on responsibility and control and that is the way to get ahead. All I have to say is "go me"!

And, that brings us to today. I got up, puttered around the house, went to work, worked, went to the grocery store, came home, started laundry, ate some food, watched America's Next Top Model, Ian came home, we talked, I played on my computer and now am thinking about bed. So there you have it. The exciting life of Jessica!

Below are some pictures from the last few days:

America, Are you Informed?

Over here in the UK, the States makes the news daily. It can be for many a reason - war in Iraq, murders, pollution, a diamond found in Arkansas...you get the picture. But there is one thing as Americans that I think we are not well informed of. That is the stance our country takes on polluting the world and not caring about it. Most of the countries in the world are working hard to reduce their pollution, but not America. As time goes on, the gas guzzling SUVs are getting worse gas mileage (which doesn't make sense because technology is getting better), people are commuting farther to work, the public transportation seems to be getting worse and not better and gas prices seem ridiculously high to you, yet they are rather low compared to much of the world. Many countries already have laws that keep the cars on their roads from being gas-guzzling polluters. The closest we have come to this is California has stricter laws than the rest of the states. But, this is nowhere near we need to be. Until we pay $7.50 a gallon for gas and get in our vehicle that gets at least 40 mpg (and even at that, take the bus most places), we don't even realize how most of the other first world nations are living. Get informed America! And reduce your pollution!

Here is a small article to keep you informed:

Sky News article about the Climate Summit

stop it...stop it...STOP IT!

So I'm on the bus on my way to work this morning (at 8am and it's still dark outside...what's up with that?) and this guy behind be keeps sniffing. Not little sniffs, but the kind where he is totally sucking his flem back into his system. And, he's doing it about every 30-60 seconds. Needless to say, it was driving me crazy. Then, I started visualizing the fact that his nasty flem was going back into his system. I considered moving. But then I thought people would think I was weirder than they already think I am (no one wants to be the weird girl that moves around on the bus!) I considered handing him a kleenex. But, I didn't have a clean one on me and I figured he wouldn't appreciate the dirty one in my pocket (I keep it with me for comfort, in case you were wondering why I was carrying a dirty kleenex). Then, I considered punching him. I figured if I hit him hard enough, he would get knocked out and no longer sniff. Right about this time, he got off the bus. I'm thinking it's a good thing!

Moral of the story: keep clean kleenex with you everywhere you go...and don't annoy Jessica!

What a Day?!?

So, today started out like any other Saturday...got up, got ready, then went to work. But let me tell you, there was nothing usual about today. First a kid threw up all over in the middle of the cafe at work. I was assigned the privilege of cleaning it up. Armed with gloves up to my elbows and a bunch of sanitizer, I moved in. Once I got good and close (to pick up the napkins the mom covered it with), I got a nice whiff of the vomit and began to dry heave and cry (well, my eyes watered). On a side note,my reaction to the vomit makes me question my mothering skills...not that I am claiming to have any. But, back to the story...eventually I got it all cleaned up, removed the "effected" furniture from the cafe and got back to work. A little bit later, one of my coworkers exclaims "it's snowing!" I was way too excited about this. I kept leaving "my post" to stare at the snow outside. It actually stuck for a while. But, then it started to rain and became a slushy mess. I was so excited about the snow that I offered to bring in the outdoor furniture just so I could be out in it...and so I could wear the oh-so-cool Starbucks fleece! Anyway, that is my crazy day for you. It isn't over yet, so who knows what more will happen.

3 Months

People, your little Jessica has made it three whole months in Scotland! Okay, well technically one week of that I was back in the states, but who's counting? Going back home made me see all that I am missing, but as soon as I got back, I was happy to be back. Who can't get excited about a whole Christmas village set up in the middle of town, complete with an ice skating rink? If you can't, you have problems! There isn't much to do in this small-stored, early-closing town of Edinburgh. So, me and my American friend Josie spend time wondering the streets posing for pictures, making each other laugh...hence the picture accompanying this post. Don't worry, I am not drinking away my liver here in the home of whiskey! My great American friend/coworker Josie is headed back to the states on Tuesday. I am bummed about this. Oh well. Back to my update.

For the whole month of November and December, I have the privilege of wearing bright red shirts with the saying "Pass the Cheer" to work every day. Being the spirited person that I am, I try hard to pass the cheer. Josie and I bought a cupcake for this customer at the 'bucks one night. She was so excited about it that she hugged us both. Now that is some good customer service! In an effort to not drink too many empty calories, I have now limited myself to one free drink a day at work. Look at me, practicing self control! I am known as being bossy around work. This is really nothing new for those of you that know me! Poor, poor people that work with me!

Ian and I have set up a nice little routine/life for ourselves over here. We joined a super nice gym and go to it often. They have some great new machines that I have never seen before. If any of you come visit me, I will take you there to work out...just what you wanted to do on vacation! We have learned to make more frequent visits to the grocery store. This helps the arms by not having to lug as much home each time we go to the store. It still is a weird concept though. We have adapted our eating habits to the food that is readily available here. Here are some of the things we eat frequently over here, that I must say weren't in our diets in large portions before - baked beans, tuna, sweet corn, bell pepper, egg noodles and pourrage bars (kind of like granola bars, but made with pourrage). I still miss not having a Target-type store over here. It makes finding those odd and end things one needs for living difficult to find. But, I remedied that a bit by stocking up while I was home! Since I have been spending so much time on public transportation, I have been tearing thru books. I love reading! I love being challenged to think and really having something to mull over.

Well folks, I think that is it for now. I hope each of you had an enjoyable November. Just remember, Christmas is coming...who can't be excited about that?!?

Home Sweet Home

Where exactly is my home? I have always struggled with this question. I was born in one place (Long Beach, CA) and raised in two others (Glendale, AZ & Modesto, CA). I went to college in another (San Luis Obispo, CA) and lived and bought a home in another (Pasadena, CA) for the three years before I moved to Scotland. Which of these places is my home? I seem to consistently call home two places: 1. Where my parents live 2. Where I currently live. For the past week, I have been visiting one of my homes, Modesto, CA. It has been a good time. It has been a week full of great American things…family, friends, fast food, shopping, cars and more.

Before this trip, I had forgotten how truly great America is. It is probably because everything has been taken away from me. When it was here, I really didn’t care. I used to avoid fast food; now I want as much of it as I can get because it soon will be gone. This is the same with many other things. America is just so great! Who doesn’t love driving around in a car blasting the stereo? Going thru any number of fast food restaurants? All the big box retailers? Oh, there is just so much that America offers that I have yet to find in Scotland.

Scotland is a good place, just much different than America. Since I was raised here, I just know what to expect around every corner. When I first moved to Scotland, it was more exciting not knowing what to expect. Now that excitement has worn off…at “home” I know exactly where to find things! But, leaving this time is not nearly as hard as the last. It was just a visit, not my life. That helps. I will be returning to a house with my own possessions, a job with people I know and a few friends. Scotland isn’t that bad, just not my original home.

Below are some pictures from my time at home. Enjoy!

Ian & Riley on the way home from the airport.

Tanner playing with his new Christmas present.

Tanner & Jeremy before he (Tanner, that is) melt down.

Clive in his cool new sunglasses!

Riley in her new coat. The hood even has fur on it!

Riley in front of the Christmas tree.

My mom at the place she sells antiques.

An Evening in Edinburgh

Ever wonder what there is to do in Edinburgh? Well, there isn't much, but here are some photos of my evening out last night...

Ian came to say hi to me and my friend Josie while we were hanging out at Starbucks...a different one than we work at though.

Josie and I went on a "bike ride". It was one of those rides where someone peddles you around. It was a girl biker; I was impressed!

This is Josie and I on the ride...

Then we got crepes from some stand on the side of the road. We ate them on a park bench...I thought you might be wondering!

Ian met up with us later. By that point, Josie and I had gone to the store and I decided to buy Ian flowers. Aren't I nice?!?

Well there you have it...a night in Edinburgh. Everything closes here by 6pm and there isn't much to do. Josie and I managed to wonder around almost the whole city, no exaggeration, and entertain ourselves. Quite the night!

The Thoughts of Jessica - Life Happens

Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.

Have you ever noticed we define our lives by big events? We remember years by big events that took place in them..."Oh, that was the year that I moved to Scotland." Okay, so maybe that was just this year, but you get the point. What I am trying to say is that we define our lives thru big events, but in reality, our lives are defined by our responses to these events.

Think of big events in your life. Think of how you "responded" to them. Now think about how your life would have been different today if you had responded differently. Our responses shape our life for the good and the bad. Unfortunately, we can't change either response...that is called life.

Earlier this year, when Ian and I decided to move to Edinburgh, my life was completely focused on the "move". I spent all my time, okay, well not ALL of it, thinking about what my life was going to be like. Then I move, compare the hell out of my "new" and "old" life and think about what I miss. What gives? I do have a good life here and I am living it. But, it doesn't mean I don't miss the old one. But, I made a decision and am living with it.

As I look forward to heading home in six days (I am home for just a week) things are still going on over here. I am making friends. I am going tanning (which I have never done before). I am going to watch the big football game (supposed to be the biggest one for this "generation" in Scotland...or so I read in the paper). I am making people coffee. I am living my life...

Think about it.

Baby it's Cold Outside!

Okay, so everyone knows it is cold in Edinburgh. And, I make sure no one forgets it! But tonight when Ian and I were getting ready for the gym, the amount of clothing we put on made me laugh! You can't tell from the picture, but both Ian and I are wearing 2 pairs of workout pants. I am also wearing 4 layers on top! Ian, being the manly guy that he is, managed with only 2 and a scarf.

I know I always complain of how cold it is here, but there is a reason. When you have to stand at a bus stop for who knows how long (the busses are never on time) and it is cold and windy, it is hard to stay warm! I remember how "hard" it was on me in LA to get in my car in the garage, drive to work and run from my car to a warm building. I also remember sitting in my office, blasting the space heater year round...Julianne was on the other side of the office rocking her fan! Oh the memories! For all of you out there, whenever you are warm, think of me!

The Crazy American

Since I have been here, many a time have I been referred to as "the crazy American". What's up with that?!?

Why would people call me that?

There are a few reasons, I think...
1. I got everyone at work to make "dinosaur" sounds to relieve stress
2. Everyone thinks I am happy all the time...I have been questioned about this many times
3. I boss people around at work
4. I make fun of Texans...for some reason everyone here seems to have a connection with Texas...very strange!
4. I get into whipped cream wars with people at work
5. I enjoy "hoovering" (vacuuming) due to the face they put on the vacuums over here...this was even brought up in my work's holiday meeting

Why do I care?

1. Because why does me being an American matter so much?
This is really it...Never in my life has my nationality (or as I like to refer to it, my race) matter so much. it is constantly pointed out. People always have something to say about it. Be it something about my "accent", about politics, their vacation to the states or some bad experience they have had with someone from the states before. It is just intriguing to me how much people point out that I am American.

On a side note, I really don't care about being called crazy...this has happened many a time before. It is the fact that people call me "the crazy American" that gets to me. People of America, please know, I don't want to let all of you down...I don't want the people of Scotland to think everyone in America is crazy; just me!

Giving a Shout Out...To the Parents

Today is my mom's birthday; yesterday was my dad's. I so wish I could be with them to celebrate them and make sure they know how much they are loved. For those of you that don't know my parents (well, and for those of you that do) I was extremely blessed in the parental department...they are the greatest there are! When I think about having kids and think about what my kids will think of me, I wonder how my parents did such a good job at having me and my brothers like them so much. I am not kidding, they are the best. I have great childhood memories and wonderful recent ones as well. They are just fun people to be around. Let me tell you about each one of them specifically.

My dad...
What a guy! He loves the Lord with his whole heart and isn't afraid to express it. And the cool thing is that he actually does things like Jesus did...he hangs out with sinners, loves them and accepts them as they are. I admire this. My dad loves me and my brothers with his whole heart and loves my mom even more. I love the fact that he isn't afraid to express his love to my mom. Most parents aren't very physical, but mine aren't afraid of it...I love to see them kiss and hold hands...it shows me they still love each other. My dad loves cars and gave me that love as well. He also loves naps, which is another thing I picked up from him. Him and I are both sarcastic people, both have brown hair and both will eat about anything. I love that I am like him in many ways.

My mom...
My mom is the best! She is so loving, caring and generous with me and others. Many people think she is quiet, but once you get to know her, she isn't at all. My mom has a love for God that equals my dad. She has a knowledge of scriptures that is amazing. She loves antiques and just started selling them at a store...go mom! I am so proud of her for this! My mom is always willing to do whatever I want to do and will do it with a smile on her face. She will listen to me complain and tell me when I am wrong. She is great. My mom loves "hunting" for antiques, while I don't love antiques, I love "hunting" for clothes. She also loves gardening, cleaning up after my dad (ha, ha) and talking to her kids...all three of us call her daily!

I just wanted you all to know what great parents I have. They are amazing people to know!

2 Months

Well folks, I have now made it two months. My life is different than it was even a month ago. I have assimilated to the culture more, though I am still known as the "crazy American". I have started to say things that the Brits say...things like toilet instead of bathroom, till instead of register and rubbish instead of sucks...though I still do say sucks from time to time. I have also gotten more used to being on the bus. I no longer stare out the window in amazement everywhere I go. The problem is that I now zone out and forget to get off the bus...this is another problem all of its own. Ian and I have also started to make some friends. We were even invited to someone's house for lunch...it was a really nice lunch and they made a huge meal from scratch. I was impressed. We are getting more involved in church. We even joined a cell group...though work seems to get in the way of that.

I still see/hear/smell things every day that amaze me. The sky seems to have way more color and excitement in it than the one in Southern California...though technically it is the same sky! I am still not used to the whole people not wearing deodorant thing on a crowded bus. It does a number on my nose! I am still trying to figure out how to politely cover my nose. The accents here range from easily understandable to barely recognizable as English. No joke. I can understand the majority of people, but I do run into people almost daily that have such a "crazy" accent that I can't understand them. This poses a problem when I am trying to take their order at Starbucks.

I have to admit that I miss my family and friends. It is weird to not be able to see people whenever I want. And, the time change can be annoying. Once it is late enough here for me to call people, I am tired and want to go to bed...sorry Chandra. I am greatly looking forward to going home for a visit in 3 weeks. But, it makes me sad that after that I don't know the next time I will be home. I miss the people from my "old life" and still want to see them all the time. How is that possible when I live 7500 miles away?

In conclusion, after 2 months, I am getting along well in Edinburgh. Things are starting to seem more normal to me...though walking to and from the grocery store is still a pain in the butt (or more a pain in my arms!) This new life of mine is so different from my old one, but good. I am accepting it and moving forward...that is a good thing.

Edinburgh, Best Place to Live in the UK

Edinburgh was just rated the best place to live in the UK. Here are some of the reasons why:

* An amazing lifestyle, with by far the most shops, bars and restaurants
* There are more museums and galleries than any other Local Authority
* The highest concentration of listed (old buildings that have to remain the same on the outside...not the official definition, but mine) buildings in the UK

And here is a tid bit of interesting information about the place I now reside, all courtesy of Channel 4 News (BBC News, that is):

Edinburgh's beloved Old Town, with its medieval road plan and Reformation era buildings, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But a £20 million regeneration programme announced in June 2007 will see a series of rundown buildings between the Royal Mile and Market Street transformed into a brand new quarter, set to include 80 flats and a budget hotel. Locals aren't pleased, but if you're planning to move, you could snap up some brand new housing in the picturesque heart of the city.

Also a World Heritage Site, the New Town, built from 1765 onwards, and originally designed to be purely residential, followed a grid-like street layout like modern day New York when first built, much of which you'll still find intact today. These days, the New Town is known for its shops - the famous Princes Street being retail Mecca for visitors and locals alike.

The South side, Edinburgh's less famous and primarily residential district, can nevertheless boast famous residents: if you like the sound of having authors J. K. Rowling, Ian Rankin, and Alexander McCall Smith for neighbours, this is the place to be. To the east, the port of Leith was controversially merged with Edinburgh in 1920 and has enjoyed a growing profile since the 1980s as an excellent environment for white-collar workers.

A prosperous city, just over half of Edinburgh's residents work in professional occupations or as senior management, with just 1.9 per cent of the town's population claiming job seekers allowance. This is reflected in higher property prices than the national average. In fact, prices there have climbed steadily for the last five years, with the average Edinburgh home now over the £200,000 price barrier.

Think that’s too expensive? It’s still half the cost of a home in London, so if it’s capital city living for you, this is certainly one you can afford to buy in. And for that alone, Edinburgh deserves its place as the pick of the crop.

Now many of you will remember that it wasn't that long ago (5 years to be exact) that I resided in the worst place to live in the US - Modesto, CA! Here are some of the reasons why:

* High unemployment
* Expensive housing
* High crime rate...#1 city for auto theft in 2005 & 2006...down to #5 for 2007.

Think there are any similarities to the two cities? I doubt it! Well...there are Grimblebys in both cities! Coincidence? I think not!

More Thoughts of Jessica...About Church

What is the church's role in society? Many a people have an opinion on this. We in the United States constantly hear the controversy about the separation of church and state. But, what exactly should be the role of the church in the average (unsaved) person's life?

There is this church in Edinburgh that intrigues me - St. John's. It is an Episcopal church. It is an old school building...probably hundreds of years old, sitting in a very prominent position in the middle of town. I pass this church every day on my way to/from work. It intrigues me due to its involvement in the community. Last week it had a booth staffed with people to give practical help for people to get out of debt. I thought that was cool. Also, this church constantly is hosting various "sales" at it - jewelry one week, books another...you get the picture. They also have a coffee shop and their own store that is currently selling Christmas cards for charity. You can tour the church for free daily. They also have services, Bible classes and free yoga.

This church got me thinking, what is the role of church in society? Back in the day, churches were in the middle of town and actually played a role in most people's daily lives. Why is this not so today? Is it because they have gotten too "preachy"? Or because they started caring more about conversions than actually helping their community? Whatever the reason for church no longer being the central part of society, we should be wondering why. As Christians, we shouldn’t care whether someone is “saved” or not, we should love them the way Jesus loves people…unconditionally. There’s some food for thought!

Our Stuff Has Arrived

Today was a big day. Our stuff we shipped back in July finally arrived. I was excited at work all morning, thinking about what awaited me at home. I had visions of sifting thru all my wonderful clothes, shoes and purses. When I got home I saw the boxes and began to go thru them. That is when I ran into my shoes, the shoes in the picture in particular. To any normal person, these look like normal shoes. But these shoes represented something to me. They represented a life that I am no longer living. The more I unpacked, the more I realized my clothes, shoes and purses represented a life I am no longer living. This made me sad. It isn't like I am not enjoying my life now, but there is still a sadness for the life I left behind. I no longer get dressed up for work...in fact now I wear the same pare of shoes to work everyday. I no longer carry around a beautiful purse wherever I go...since I no longer have a car, everything I need for the day has to go with me, in a messenger bag. And, 5 days a week, I wear a white or black collared shirt with black pants. Those last two days, I am free to express myself with the few winter clothes I own...come on, I lived in Southern California!

I never expected to be having these feelings. It is weird to go thru such a dramatic life change. And, it isn't just about the move. It is about giving up my job, my car, my home. It's everything and sometimes when I think about it, I am sad. The funny thing is, I know that when this chapter of my life is over, I will be going thru these exact feelings about Scotland. Life, or emotions, can be so strange at times!

Have Some Class Edinburgh

Sometimes it seems that I am living in a third world nation, not the UK...the parent of the great USA. People here just seem to have no class. I have semi gotten used to the ever present cigarette smoke cloud that is all over the city. But I have not gotten used to people throwing the butts all over the ground. I also haven't gotten used to people littering everywhere. It is so trashy. People leave all their garbage everywhere. And the funny thing is, there are trashcans all over...use them people! City employees go around town sweeping the sidewalks, but a more effective plan might be for the people of Edinburgh to get some class!

Previously I mentioned dog poop on the sidewalks. It is everywhere. On Friday, I witnessed a lady in my building stand at the entrance to our building (in the doorway, non the less) smoking, while she let her dog poop on the sidewalk (there is no grass or anything of the sort directly in front of our building). Once the dog was done, she called the dog in, threw her cigarette butt on the ground and went inside. Now, normally one may think this is the scene of a building in the projects or something...I live in the nice area of town! Imagine what it must be like for those on the "other side of the tracks".

I would like to end this blog by saying, don't leave trash behind...wherever you go. Everyday at the 'bucks, I get to pick up after people. And people are trashy...think feeding your baby a meal and leaving the baby food goo all over the table along with the baby food container, disposable bib and anything else the mom didn't feel like taking with her.

HAVE SOME CLASS EDINBURGH...pick up after yourselves! Oh, and if any of you ever come visit Edinburgh, please don't pick up any of their nasty habits!

From House to Home

How does one turn a house into a home? When I first got married, my house was a mixture of hand-me-downs. None of the furniture matched and I really didn't care. Then Ian and I got out of college, got some money and I got a job at Pottery Barn...a job with a GOOD discount. Instantly, my house became a style of classic, not too colorful things. I liked it. But, three months ago, all of those beautiful possessions went into a storage unit. Now, here I am today, in Scotland in a house filled with someone else's furnishings. How do I turn that into a home? I am finally feeling like I achieved it. This is what I did:

1. Bought a vacuum cleaner...the house didn't have one and a broom just wasn't cutting it.
2. By extensively rearranging the furniture in the house....this way it doesn't look like how the old people left it.
3. Bringing in candles...I like candles and they get rid of the old people's smell. Every family has a smell and I wanted my smell in here as quick as possible...that smell has come in the form of "buttercream vanilla".

Now this place is feeling like home. I feel more comfortable here and feel like it is really my home. Of course, I will still be ecstatic when my possessions from the states arrive...though I am not holding my breath on when that will be. Sometimes we turn things into homes that we aren't used to doing. I never thought about this when we were in the process of moving. But it has worked...I am home.


Living in Los Angeles, I thought was beautiful. I loved the huge rolling freeways...no joke. Seeing the beach from Glendale on a clear day, beautiful sunsets, beautiful weather, diversity among people. You get the picture. But, now that I am living in Edinburgh, I have come to appreciate a new kind of beauty. I wanted to share with you all something I wrote down on my way to work the other day...it was just one of those days...

Some days everything seems beautiful. The weather is beautiful, in fact warm for here. The sky is beautiful. The park is beautiful. I am even seeing beauty in things like road signs covered in stickers. Some may find this tacky, but it looked neat, it looked beautiful. When I was waiting for the bus, I was looking at the beautiful park on Princes Street. It had just been fertilized, which was not a beautiful smell. But, the park itself looked so serene, so beautiful. Looking across the street...the cobblestone street...I saw an eclectic mix of old buildings. Not California old, but hundreds of years old. So beautiful. The way Edinburgh has been able to mix the old and the new has created a beautiful array of styles. I love it. Sometimes everyday things can just be so beautiful.

I feel like after moving here my eyes have been opened again. I am once again seeing the every day things that had just become so normal to me. I am people watching again. I am appreciating the "warm" weather (when I only bundle up in a sweater and not a coat). Take a minute today, wherever you are, to slow down and appreciate the beauty around you. It's everywhere!

Another 'bucks?!?

Yes, it is true...my store farmed out my services to another store in town. This is my third Starbucks in a little over three weeks! What gives? About this experience that I had the privilege of experiencing, lets just say that it made me extremely happy that I work at the store that I do! This store is on the complete opposite side of town that I live - took an hour by bus to get there. This store was very old and extremely disorganized. When I walked into the back room, I was shocked to say the least. It was one tiny room that was everything...office, washroom, break room, stockroom...and it was nasty! The only real highlight of the night was that I got to take a taxi home on Starbucks expense! It was fun. The taxi was waiting for me when I got off...and drove me right home. That only took like 20 minutes! Door to door service baby! This is a highlight because I can't afford that kond of lavish living on what the 'bucks pays!

Let's just say that my experience at this unnamed 'bucks (to protect the poor place's identity, though I did post a picture) made me all the more greatful for the store I work at. Today I made sure to tell everyone over and over how appreciative I am for the store I work at...hey, I don't want to get transferred to that coffee-serving crap hole! And really, I work with some rather neat people. Most of them are hard workers and fun people to be around...those are good qualities.

On a side note, one that has nothing to do with Starbucks, it was cold enough this morning that I could see my breath. That is rather cold. Fun times! But, I did get some "fun" new gloves to wear out in the cold...I am wearing them right now. They go up past my elbows! Don't you wish you were freezing your butt off in Scotland?!?

The Thoughts of Jessica

You have the power to change anything, because you are the on who chooses your thoughts and you are the one who feels your feelings. - The Secret

Is this true? Can we change anything? Our thoughts and our feelings seem to be the hardest things to control. This may not be true for everyone, but for me it is true. When you move to another country, one has a lot of time on their hands to think, ponder, read, feel, think again...you get the picture. I have decided that I really need to control what I put in my mind - you know, crap in, crap out. So, I started reading. I am in the middle of reading Velvet Elvis, by Rob Bell. This book is phenomenal. A definite must read. This book has opened my eyes to so many aspects of the bible that I never even knew, or thought of. Rob does a good job at letting people know that it is okay to have questions about God, it is okay to not have it all figured out. How great is that?!? Every day can be a learning experience! I read Ian some of the things that have really stuck out to me in the book, and he started reading it today! Look at the impact I have on that man!

Looking at my life, all I can do is try to live my life to the best of my ability. What does that entail? I have decided this means:
* Showing those I love how much I love and appreciate them
* Spending time studing God and knowing why I believe what I believe
* Being a hard worker...not a slacker (not that I ever really was)
* Taking care of my body - eating healthy, getting expercise
* Making plans for the future and going for them

I want to take control of my life. I won't let myself be blown around in the wind. Everyday, I want my life to count and matter. This means, I have to focus on the things that count and matter. I know you all thought I was just over here in Scotland partying it up, but look at what has been going on...I have been thinking, and reading!

The Real Deal

So, you want to know what its like to live in another country? Let me tell you...Today I went to the grocery store. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, it was raining. So, I schlepped the half-mile to the grocery store, umbrella in one hand, purse in the other. On my way there, a thought occurred to me, "How am I going to carry my umbrella, purse and my groceries?!?" I am a smart one! I should have thought of this before I left my house. Oh well, live and learn! I went ahead and did my grocery shopping, shoved my purse in with my groceries and schlepped home in the rain. It wasn't the most glamorous moment of living in Edinburgh! I will have to get used to it though, 'cause it's going to be a rainy winter.

I have to admit, the last couple days I am really starting to miss the people in my life. Not being able to see so many of you is bothersome. I find myself being out and about and "seeing" someone I know. Its weird. Oh well. Know that I love and miss so many of you (notice I didn't say all) and think about you often. If thoughts were worth everything, I would be with you all! Think about that for a while, or until the next time I blog...

1 Month

Well folks, I have officially made it one month in Edinburgh. And let me tell you, what a month it has been! I was sitting on the bus yesterday thinking about how much my life has changed. It really is amazing. But, I would like to put your minds at ease by letting you know that I am still me...I am still the girl that is sarcastic, says inappropriate things, loves Friends, loves BMWs and thinks purses are great. But, I am now also the girl that has learned to lift her feet when she walks (due to the trippage factor), watches for dog poop and human vomit on the sidewalks, enjoys a crisp cold morning (with the proper clothing on), likes riding the bus and enjoys the less stressful life I am now living.

I want to tell you a little bit about Edinburgh that I have come to notice. This is a place very unlike the states. All the buildings are old. Yet oddly enough, all the cars are new (due to car laws they have). People over here care about the environment like no other. Recycling is huge. So is "replacing" what you take from the world. Don't damage the ozone layer. I have also learned that Scotland would LOVE to no longer be ruled by "London". Taggings of this are all over the city. The newspaper discusses how bad London is for them and hopefully Scotland can eventually become their own. News is a big thing over here. People still read newspapers...something I like, because I am old school like that! Also, the news is much less censored. The war in Iraq is on the news every night, usually with some very uncensored photos. I personally think this is good. They show their solders all wounded from the war. They mention the names of those that have died and tell a little bit about them. I like that kind of respect. I wish there could be more of this in the US. These people died for a "good" bigger than themselves and we need to give respect to that. Stores close at about 6pm every night. This makes it very hard to do anything except for on your days off. Pubs are the thing. Everyone hangs out in them...including families. Babies seem to be everywhere...no joke, I think these people breed like rabbits! There seems to be a much larger mix of immigrants here than in the US. For the states being a "melting pot" I don't think they are doing a good job compared to Scotland! It may just be though that there are many more countries much closer together. Either way, they expect people to speak English here. What a novel thought! America should consider this, since English is their official language and all! Okay, enough of my views...

On to my life in Edinburgh. In the past month, Ian and I have moved into our new place, I got a job and I got my insurance number (kind of like a social security number). Our house is starting to come together and feel like home. I think it will much more when our stuff FINALLY arrives from the states...but who knows when that will finally happen (we shipped our stuff at the end of July!). We have rearranged the furniture a little, bought some things for the kitchen and ordered a dining table and chairs. It's just nice to feel like some of the stuff is actually ours. Work is going well. I was lucky enough to be instantly hired as full time. No "working up" to it or anything. That was nice. Except for me getting used to being on my feet all day, it is nice to have a job that is rather stress free. Also, most of the people I work with are really nice. It's fun to actually get to interact with other human beings. There even is a nice customer I met from Auburn, CA! She is a total sweetie...introduced herself and asked my name as well. I consider that a "sweetie" obviously.

I guess that is really it about my "new" life. I am still getting used to this being my life. I feel that at any moment, Ian and I will go home. I will walk back into my house, just as I left it. My car will be sitting there for me and I will use it to drive to work. Everything will be the same. I think I have this feeling because I don't have any of my stuff with me. Normally when one moves, they take everything with them. Obviously, this wasn't an option for me. So, in a sense, I have built a new life. It's a good life, just new and different.

On a side note, during the month of October, I am going to be doing a daily pictorial diary of my life. So many people have asked me for pictures and I never really know what pictures to send. So, I have decided that I will take pictures every day and post them online. Some of you may remember "A month in the life of Jessica". I am virtually doing that again, but this time it will be called "A month in the life of Jessica - Edinburgh style!" Notice the difference?!? Okay, I am a dork...I realize this. These pictures don't start until October...so if you visit the site today, you won't be seeing any pictures! But, be sure to start visiting it this coming week. I know you are on the edge of your seat with anticipation...what exactly does Jessica do with the 24 hours in a day that she has?!? Oh, you will find out!

Goodbye Training 'Bucks

Today I finished my time at my "training bucks". That means that tomorrow I officially start at my store. It's kind of weird. I liked it at my training store. Everyone that works there was really nice. And, it was on a street that just screams "Scotland". The street is narrow, the buildings old, and it winds around down hill...now you know what I think of when I think "Scotland". But, tomorrow I am on to another place. A place where no one knows my name...ha, ha! Okay, so maybe they do because I am on the schedule. I am sure everything will go well.

On another note, it is interesting to talk to people from here and hear their perceptions of America. Just like us visiting one area of a country and thinking we know the whole place, that is what they think. And, usually they visit weird places...think Las Vegas, Miami and the such. I was talking to this guy at work today about the differences between America and here. And it struck me, think how weird they would think things were if they moved to America. The Scottish would probably be perplexed to walk into a supermarket. Why are there 10 different kinds of cottage cheese? Where are all the potatos, carrots and onions? I swear those are the only vegetables in this country! They would be confused at the lack of public transportation, and the lack of vacation time! It's interesting to take a minute and see things thru someone else's eyes. Take a minute to do that...you will be amazed!

Gwen Stefani

Due to an intense jealousy I felt toward Katie and Angie for going to the Gwen Stefani concert in Southern CA, I decided to move to another country so I could catch the show here! And, let me tell you, what a show it was! Totally worth every minute of it! I have never seen a performer interact with her crowd so much. She talked about how her husband is half Scottish and her little man, Kingston, downing the blood pudding that morning. Then, she went on to thank her fans for giving her such a fabulous life...how cool is that?!? She thanked her fans!

Then, at another point in the show, she came out and performed in the crowd. She actually did it rather close to where Ian and I were sitting. As I was watching her perform, I was thinking what a violation she has to endure to get up close and personal like that...people were touching her all over the place. Kind of weird, but I liked that she came out into the crowd.

That's really it...Gwen Stefani rocks! Enjoy the pics...

It's a lonely winter for us...

This song makes me think of driving to work...pumping up the volume in my car to "wind" me up...now you know the secret to my chaotic self!

In the crowd...

Big Girls Don't Cry...

Okay, so maybe I stole that from a song, and maybe I didn't cry, but I am a big girl! I had a big girl day just to prove it to all of you! First, I am staying alone in a city where I know no one...take that! Then, I managed to find the Starbucks where I started my training today, all on my own! How big girl am I?

In case you wanted to know, the training went well today. One of the girls I worked with today is actually from the states! Made me feel like I was at home...ha, ha! At work, they made me take out my nose ring...gasp! I put it back in at every possible moment and the hole didn't close...don't worry you "Jessica nose ring fans"...I know there are so many of you! But, I guess that is what I will have to do 5 days a week; pull out the nose ring. They also wanted me to take out that hoop in the middle of my ear on my left side. I couldn't get it out though. I am supposed to have it out by tomorrow. But, being the clever person that I am, I am thinking that I will just put a bandaid over it...I'm so smart!

I would like to take a minute out of my blog to brag about the benefits here in the UK. Working at Starbucks, I get 4 weeks paid vacation my first year working there...I get 40 hours to carry me thru December! And, I get 2 weeks sick time! It really is the hard life! I don't even know how I am going to make it here! Ha, ha! I am excited about the nice vacation time. But, back to my big girl day...

After I got off work, I did another big girl thing and went grocery shopping all on my own...how grown up am I? This is actually a big deal, since I don't like having to venture out into the unknown without the safety of Ian by my side. But I did it abnd got the things that I needed.

The last (well who knows; there may actually be more) big girl thing I did today, was seek out a new place to find free internet. My old faithful, Sofis, is having problems with their internet. So, I went to another place instead...Roseleaf. It isn't bad. Really old school looking inside, but they make a mean nachos! Did I mention that I am trying to eat healthy? Ha, ha!

Alright, well that is the synopsis of my "big girl" day. All of you who haven't had a big girl day, don't worry, one day it will happen for you too!

Life in Edinburgh

This morning, Ian and I made our way over to the weekly farmers market. It is right next to the castle in the middle of Edinburgh. It wasn't quite as easy to find as we thought. Over here, streets aren't in straight lines like in the states...something you should be happy about...winding streets suck! Streets seem to zig-zag every which direction, go under and over each other. Needless to say, it's very confusing. Anyway, after over an hour, we found our way to the farmers market. We were able to pick up some good, locally grown items to eat. Produce over here is very different than in the states. I didn't even recognize most of the produce, except for the potatoes! I did venture out and buy a new veggie (of which name I don't remember) to try out. I am told it is similar to spinach. Most people steam it, but you can put it in salad. We also picked up some strawberries, 2 things of locally made jam and some meat. Organic, locally grown products are the thing over here. People care about the environment a lot and think it is ridiculous to buy products that need to be flown/shipped in. So, here is my attempt to jump on the band wagon and buy locally grown! I did buy some sort of meat pie from "well hung and tender". No joke...that is the name of the vendor! I am told that after I eat this "pie" I will be coming back for more. We will see how that goes...

I also wanted to touch on clothing styles in the UK, since some of you have asked. I have noticed that tights are a huge thing here. People wear them under everything...probably so they can wear more than just pants! The big thing seems to be wearing tights and short jean skirts together. I am not exactly the short jean skirt type of gal, but you never know! Also, scarves are huge. Now, I know this is a necessity, but they are different than in the states. They are thinner material and much wider. Kind of like a pashmina. Also, oddly enough, even when it is sunny out, people don't wear sunglasses. This has become another indicator of a tourist...one bearing sunglasses! Shoes are also "the thing" over here. There are shoe stores everywhere. And, the stores are HUGE...it makes my heart so happy. Being around so many shoes at one time almost overwhelms me...ha, ha!

Okay, that's your lesson for today! Enjoy your country, while I enjoy mine!

A Job?!?

That's right...I did it. I got a job! After

4 weeks (to the day) of unemployment
2 days of feeling sorry for myself
1 day of turning in applications (2 to be exact)
1 interview and
1.5 hours of "trying out"

I have landed myself a job! Yours truly will be working at Starbucks! The green apron is headed my direction! The store I am working at seems rather cool. It is a "community" store...doesn't get tourists or commuters either. It's main clientele is "mums with toddlers". I doesn't have bad hours...only open 7:30am to 7"30pm...that means no late nights or early mornings! The people (well the ones I have met) that work there seem rather nice. The store manager is actually from Finland. She has barely been at that store...only 2.5 months. And most of the other people that work there are new to the store as well. One of the guys I was with this morning, this was his first day at that store and another guy, his second. I guess they have been very short staffed.

I start on Monday...with all my paperwork...but she (the nameless manager) said the paperwork will take like 8 hours...I am scared! Then, my manager is going on "holiday", so I will be training at another store while she is gone. I am excited. This job came at just the right time. Ian will be in London for three days next week and I didn't know what I was going to do with myself...well, now I actually have a reason to leave the house! Go me!

I would like to thank all of you who have stuck by my side during this period of unemployment...I know it has been difficult on all involved. Okay, I am kidding! I am just so freakin excited!
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