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...
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