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!

Getting Around...

Livin' in most places, except LA, public transportation is the main mode of transportation. This is the case for Edinburgh. They are currently working on putting a tram system in, but for now buses work. Being the "cool kid" that I am, I have a bus pass. Really, it takes me where I need to go. Ian and I live right on a main bus route. The bus stop is less than a block from our house. The bus line we live on runs 24 hours a day...though after midnight, my cool kid bus pass doesn't work anymore...I found that out this hard way this past weekend.

Really though, buses will take me anywhere I need to go (I know I already said this). The only problem is, you can't really buy a ton of stuff and schlep back onto the bus with it...sometimes a car is just more convenient. For instance, Ian and I went to Ikea yesterday...the bus trip took about an hour (we probably went 10 miles...I never said buses were fast!) We bought a decent amount of stuff...but not more than we could carry! It sucks not being able to push a cart straight from the store to your car. No, for us bus riders, we must carry everything. Think about what a strain this puts on your normal life. Like most of you, once a week (or sometimes even less) I would take my car to the grocery store...I would load up on all sorts of goodies, then drive home. Well, now I walk half a mile to the grocery store...and really it is 1/4 the size of the ones in the states. I have to make sure I don't buy more than I can carry. Then, I have the privilege of carrying everything half a mile back home. Things start getting really heavy!

Here is my take on all this hard work...now that I have to do all this "manual" labor, the gym is no longer necessary. I get plenty of cardio in thru my daily walks and the shopping I do...then carry home...does a good job of toning those muscles! But, we will see how long I can avoid the gym, eating all this good fried food!

Our New Home

Well folks, it is official, we are finally living in Edinburgh...real address and everything! We took over the place on Saturday. The owners left many of the things that we will need to live there. But, we still have a list of "must haves" for the place. We set out shopping on Saturday and only ended up with three items. Shopping here isn't like in the states. We couldn't exactly walk into a Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond and get our "must haves". No, we had to schlep from store to store, never finding some of the most important things on the list. For example, never stumbled across an alarm clock, kitchen towels or a decent lamp. We did manage to find a laundry hamper and a wonderfully scented diffuser from The Pier...their version on Pier 1. This buttercream vanilla diffuser is working its hardest at getting the scent of the old residents out, making if feel more like home. The old "scent" wasn't bad, just not home. Know what I mean?

Once our shipped possessions arrive, hopefully in the next couple weeks, the place will definitely feel more like home. I shipped some various "necessities", like photo albums, picture frames and oddities for the kitchen. Also, let us not forget...all my freakin clothes, though I am missing my shoe collection the most!

Though it isn't a townhouse in say, Pasadena...it will do! Enjoy the pics...

This is the front door. You enter the building, then our door is down some stairs, on the left.

This is our bedroom...the bed is only a double. They don't have queen size beds here.

I wanted you to see the size of the closet...very small. If you can imagine, the one in the spare bedroom is half the size of this one!

The bathroom...it has a shower/bath combo. I shipped over a shower bar and curtain. I will be happy when that gets here...I just don't get why they don't use those here.

The kitchen. It is it's own room...only connected to the hallway. That is how everything is though...no such thing as an open floor plan here!

Last, but not least, the washer/dryer combo. I wanted you to see this because I am sure in the coming months, there will be plenty of complaining about it! You can only put about 5 items in it (yes, I said 5) and it takes about 6 hours to do its thing...I think this will (and already is) drive me mad!

Cultural Differences

Things are just different enough in the UK to drive one (mainly me) mad. Everything seems to be just slightly different. Pick a "thing" and I could tell you the difference. The toilet flushes from the top and has barely any water in it. The water here doesn't "mix" hot and cold as well as ours in the states does...makes showers an experience! A key I used for something today was upside down. The "key" part had to be on the bottom rather than on top. Soda is really expensive here...like 5 pounds for a six-pack...when you exchange that, it's like $10.50! Needless to say, not much soda in my life! Not that there really was much before. When you go to a restaurant, you have to ask for the bill...they won't just bring it to you. And, you have to specially ask for tap water...I am cheap, so I always do. Also, tipping is way different here. You tip like maybe 10%. But, you definitely don't get the kind of service here that you would in America. Guess I am not in America anymore, right?

Then you get to vocabulary. I can understand most people, but there are different words for things here. Here are some examples for you...that way when I becomes fully acclimated, you can understand me!

Trash can - bin
Elevator - lift
Soy - soya
Garbage - litter
Cell phone - mobIle (notice the emphasis on the "i")
Bathroom - toilet
To go - takeaway

It's the little things that can drive one mad! But, then there are funny things too. On every pack of cigarettes, there is a huge warning that takes up half the pack (no exaggeration) that says "smoking kills". Yet, every other person you see is smoking. They smoke like crazy around here. Then you get to the drinking...all these people drink. It is kind of insane. Also, there are Pizza Huts all over the place. And, they are ALWAYS packed. I walked past one at 3pm today and it was packed. Who knew? Pizza Hut isn't even that good. While I was in London, there was a huge add for "Cali-Style" shoes. Our very own Ashlee Simpson was the face for the add. The whole "Cali-Style" thing almost had me peeing my pants, I was laughing so hard. First, who says "Cali" and second who knew we had a style?!? Oh well.

I have learned to spot tourists from a mile away though. They are usually taking up the whole sidewalk, walking dreadfully slow...without a care in the world. Then they insist to some poor Starbucks worker that the one "back home" makes so and so drink when this one does't...do you think the poor worker behind the counter really cares? NO! When they pay somewhere, they usually get their money out of a ziplock bag. Also (and this is totally me) they wear flip-flops...not too many flip-flop wearers around here. I haven't yet figured out if it is because of the trippage factor or the cold factor.

Oh well, my faithful Bar Aspen is closing...gotta run!

24 Hours in London

I have now been in London for 24 hours. Things have not gone as smoothly as they should. The underground is on strike. Three of the lines are still open because they are operated by a different company. Thankfully, one of those three lines, is the line that goes to/from the airport. So we boarded the train (luggage and all) for the ride to our hotel. Normally, this ride (with 2 train changes) should take about a hour and a half. Well, it took almost 4 hours! It was hot in the train and very smooshed. This one guy even got his hand stuck in my hair! What I don't understand, is why in this day and age, people still don't wear deodorant. When the really potent people got on, you could tell...smell. If it is against your belief, you should at least go against your belief for the sake of those around you when you are in cramped, closed quarters! So, now you know my stance on deodorant.

Last night, Ian's birthday, we went out to eat at this place that served Tex-Mex...and it was yummy! Way better than the nasty Mexican food we had in Edinburgh...though not even close to Modesto's! Those of you from there, go eat some El Rosal for me and tell me about it...oh I miss it! Come to think of it, I didn't even eat E.R. the last time I was in town. That is like a sin. I go there every time I am in Motown. I blame Chandra!

Back to London. I went out today exploring. Walked along some river...it was called the "Queen's Walk". Went on the Tower Bridge, then went inside the Tower of London. Saw the crown jewels. There is a beautiful diamond in there that is 502 carats! It was nice! While I was looking at all these jewels, a thought came to my head...what a waste! Why make new everything every time there is a new king/queen? It is a waste of money (UK taxpayers money) and a waste of jewels. If no one is going to use these jewels anymore, it seems a shame for them to just get locked up in a case, in a vault for people to walk past them. We can't even take pictures! Poor wasted jewels!

I wanted to touch on me being such a tourist today. I am wearing a pink hoodie today. Let me tell you, no one in London wears pink! In fact, they don't wear color. Everyone was wearing black and white (no exaggeration) and I have never seen so many people in suits in my life. Needless to say, I stuck out like a sore thumb. But, I like my pink hoodie...hope people in Scotland like color!

Alright, that's it for now. Enjoy the pics. I wish some (notice I said some, not all) of you were here with me!

Just trying to prove to you all that I was actually here...and didn't just grap the pics from the internet!

The London Bridge thru the eyes of the Tower of London...and me and my camera!

Goodbye & Welcome Home - Part 2

I am sitting here in Bar Aspen, using their free internet...yeah, who knew bars had free internet?!? I now have 36 hours under my belt and have some thoughts to share about my "new home". First off, it is definitely cold here...dreadfully cold. When my plane was landing, the pilot said it was 54 degrees outside (and that's Fahrenheit!) The sun also doesn't seem to come out here much. It really doesn't rain, though did a little yesterday, but it is certainly windy. Also, people are stinkin' playing bagpipes on like every corner. It is kind of obnoxious. But, eventually it will probably blend in with the rest of the noise. The streets and sidewalks are cobblestone. This has proved a problem for me since I drag my feet. I have seriously been tripping all the time. People probably think something is wrong with me...that's usual though...ha, ha! Also, Ian has told me to stop converting everything from pounds to dollars...it will drive me (and you mad). Everything is like twice the price here...and the pay isn't! But, housing and cars are normally priced. It really makes no sense. I got a cell phone here yesterday. They do it way differently here. I have a plan, but it isn't a plan like in America. I get a certain amount of "credit" (almost like pre-pay) and can use it to text message or call. But, oddly enough, my "credit" isn't good for international calling or texting...whatever! But I did get a really neat cell phone that has internet on it and internet phone capabilities on it as well. That means, when we (and by we, I mean Ian) get that up and running, I can call whoever I want for free! Yeah! But back to Scotland. Today Ian took me by the place we will live...we move in on Friday. It looks really nice from the outside. It is only 5 years old. It is a first floor flat. It has a little outdoor patio. And the building backs up to a river. It was very easy to get to by bus. Only about 2 miles away from the castle and city centre (as these people spell it). Ian and I are both excited about getting in and settled.

Last night, I decided to go to sleep at like 8pm. Well, by 2am I was wide awake and hungry. So, I got dressed and Ian and I went out and found some fish and chips. The place was full of drunk people who were quite entertaining. The fried food was entertaining as well. You could get practically anything fried at this place! Even with all the fried food, I am not too (yet still a little) worried about letting myself go...I seriously have to walk miles around this place. Then imagine carting groceries home...it is quite the work out.

Well there you have it, a little look into my "new" life. I am sure there will be more to come as I get more immersed in the culture. But for now, it's all good...I guess!

Goodbye & Welcome Home - Part 1

I am sitting here, in 19D, on the last leg of my flight to Scotland. I have just left the land of opportunities, the land of the brave and have no clue where I am headed. What I mean is that I have no clue what Edinburgh will give me in life.

Today I said my goodbyes to my mom, dad and Riley. I was feeling nervous, so goodbyes are hard under those circumstances. But, I know they know that I love and appreciate them. Leaving Riley is the saddest because she doesn’t understand. I know she is only a dog, but she is the coolest dog there is…seriously! Even you animal haters would love her!

As I leave, I feel sadness. It is hard to understand this sadness. I will still be able to talk to and email people as I wish. But, there is something hard about not being able to get in a car and drive to see the people I want. I will no longer be able to cruise around LA and see my friends down there. No more lunches with the entourage. No longer will I be able to drive up to Motown to see my family and friends. I won’t be able to see Tanner every once in a while. See how he has grown and changed. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but when I think about the human touch, it is worth so much more. I will miss that. I even made my dad promise that if I needed, he would come visit me in November (his month off of work). I will definitely miss the human touch.

As I sit here in 19D, I think of all that I am leaving behind….I can literally see all the things and feel like they are still there (my house, car, work, Riley)….but I keep looking ahead and think about the future. There will be new friends (not to replace the old, but to add to the bunch), a new job at who knows where, new places to hang out, new everything. I try to look ahead so I don’t feel sad. It’s hard though, thinking about all I am leaving behind.
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