Sick Days

From time to time, I run into cultural differences that I just can't seem to grasp. One is the acceptance of calling in sick to work for almost anything. People had told me how you can go to the doctor and get a sick note for anything. They will even lie for you. Doctors don't really seem to care. Well, after 14 months of never once calling into work sick (yet showing up numerous times and spreading my sickness to everyone I work with!), I finally had to do it. Two weeks ago, I woke up so sick and couldn't keep my head out of the toilet. At first, I was hoping to pull it together to get to work, but after realizing I couldn't even stand up, I resigned to the fact that I couldn't work and called in sick. Over here in Scotland, there is a law that you have to be symptom free for 48 hours before you head back to work, so that meant I had to miss the next two days of work as well. On the second day, I went to the doctor. Though I was no longer "with symptom", I was still not eating or feeling well. The doctor did some testing and told me I should take a few more days off work. A few more days?!? What am I supposed to do around the house for a few more days? Needless to say, I told a little lie to my manager (saying I was fine) and was back at work the next day.

Now fast forward two weeks. All week my ear has been bothering me. Ear infections are a common thing for me, but I can usually ride them out without a visit to the doctor (I really do seem to have an aversion to doctors). But, on Wednesday night, the pain was unbearable and kept me up most of the night. Finally, I crawled out of bed at 4:15am to go to work...not feeling my best. On the way out the door, I woke Ian up and asked him to make a doctor's appointment for me for that afternoon after I got off work. When I went to the doctor, she confirmed what I suspected, I had a bad ear infection. After writing me a prescription, she told me I should probably take the next few days off work to recover. A few days off work?!? It's an ear infection! You have got to be kidding me. Needless to say, despite the doctor's orders, I am still going to work, ear infection and all.

When you are from a country that prides itself on work ethic, that provides its employees with 2 weeks vacation a year, and a sick week, it is a hard transition to move to a country that requires employers to give at least 5 weeks vacation a year, plus 2 weeks sick time (at my work, you get an additional week for every year you work, maxing out at 6 weeks sick time). People call in sick to work all the time and don't really care. If we ask for a sick note, they are easily attainable. It is obvious that there are flaws in both ways of thinking (too much work, and then not really caring), but there has to be a middle ground somewhere. Now, it is just finding that middle ground!

Highland Adventure

This weekend we went on an adventure to the north of Scotland and it turned out to be more of an adventure than we could have imagined! Saturday morning we loaded up our rental car and headed north to pick up Becky. We didn't have much of an agenda, just to get Becky to a distillery and see more of Scotland. Out navigation seemed intent on taking us on the most obscure roads out there. Not long into our journey, we discovered just how much it had snowed in the past 24 hours. The roads were this point it was the slushy/icy kind, that stresses everyone out when driving. No one was really on the road, but we saw a police vehicle coming toward us. Both of us stopped to chat. The police officer reassured us that not long up the road "things will get better". He also told us that "this was nothing", then informed us that he was thinking about wearing a speedo to work that day. We all got a laugh out of that one. The road did get better, but then we turned on to a one lane (not one lane each way, but one lane) road covered in snow. Once we managed to work our way back to the highway, we were much excited.

Due to all the snow on the roads, we missed the tour at the distillery by 5 minutes...we even called, but they said they wouldn't wait. The funny thing about this was that there were only two people on the tour! Even though we knew we were going to miss the tour, we headed to the distillery. It looked like beautiful, quaint place. The workers were really friendly and we took some great photos outside this place, in the countryside.

Once we headed out from the distillery, it was starting to get dark. A worker at the distillery told us a short cut to Inverness, and it seemed that the navigation was telling us the same way to go. As soon as we turned on to the shortcut road, we discovered it was unlike any road we had ever been our lives! It was covered in about six inches of snow. Thankfully, it was powder so we were able to just plow through it in our little car. We wanted to get out and look at the scenery, but had to wait until we got to the top of a hill and could push our car to start again if we had to. Eventually, we ran into a closed road and had to abandon the short cut...which may have been a good idea!

Saturday night in Inverness, we got some dinner at a local pub, checked out the castle (not so impressive compared to Edinburgh) and saw all the crazy "scene girls" out in next to nothing in the freezing temperatures. We stayed in a bed and breakfast, which was a first to me. Breakfast was at 8am, which seemed early, but it was definitely worth rolling out of bed for. The lady was super friendly and made us all a traditional Scottish breakfast that was more than any of us could handle...and held us over to dinner!

Sunday afternoon we hit up Sterling, which really is only 50 miles from Edinburgh. There is a lot of Scottish history that has happened in Sterling. The highlight of Sterling was the William Wallace monument. It was on top of a hill, then you could climb 200 and something (it's the little details I never remember!) to the top for a fantastic view of the whole valley. None of us could believe how windy and freezing it was at the top of the monument. Needless to say, we didn't stay up there long! The stairs were a tight spiral staircase and we had to take breaks because we actually would get dizzy on them!

All in all, it was a great weekend. We had some great and extremely memorable times. And it really was wonderful to experience more of Scotland. I now can't wait until our next Scottish adventure!


Someone's got a case of the Friday's...and it's me! Seriously, today was such a good day and nothing could damper my spirits. It was quite the eventful day today as well. We got our first snow of the season, which to me means that it is officially winter. The funny part is, I think I have actually adapted to the cold!?! I know, what's up with that?!? But, it is cold enough to snow (30 degrees to be exact) and even though I thought it was chilly, I wasn't bundled up like an eskimo and still felt fine. I never thought I would see the day when I actually adapted to the cold weather!

Today a great author (my opinion) who wrote some infamous books about a boy with a lightning bolt scar on his head came in not one, but two times. And to cap it all off, she was in in two different outfits, both times very smartly dressed. The first time, she was in writing. Whenever she is writing, she always tries to be inconspicuous, usually by sitting huddled in a corner and always covering up her writing. But, I can understand, being how famous her writing is.

Lastly, I would like to "entertain" you with some of the happenings from my day:

* I woke up at 4:30am...and drank a red bull (sugar free of course) on my way to
work, at 5:15am.
* I started drinking coffee at work at around 7:15am (A girl can never be too
caffeinated, right?!?)
* It snowed. All work stopped and we all just stared in awe at the wonder that is
* I sat down and discussed my future with my manager...I came up with some crazy
ideas, but what do you expect from a person like me when you say "Let's discuss
your future"?
* I came home from work and took a three hour nap (obviously all that caffeine
at work didn't affect me too much)...bad move on my part as I will now be up half
the night!
* It is now 9pm and the ever so unorganized Ian and Jessica are finally making's going to be good. I have combined all the random items in our
refrigerator to create a feast. (Cut up baked potatoes, with onion, hamburger
meat and cheddar cheese.) Seriously, I am looking forward to it!


I knew I shouldn't. I had held out for this long, why should I do it now? But with a little convincing from a sales guy, I had done it...I bought a haggis! With a friend visiting, it seemed the perfect time to try it. Ian, Becky and I could all try it at the same time. Plus, the guy at the store said there was noting gross in it (yet should I trust someone saying this about something enclosed in pig intestines?). So, we brought it home and cooked it up for dinner. The actual cooking of it was quite easy - wrap in foil and cook in a pan with a little water until "piping" hot. It was after the haggis was cooked that things started to go wrong. As soon as I sliced it open, the contents popped out (as you will see in the picture). It had to be one the of the grossest things I have seen in my life. Then, taking the contents out of the pig intestines, Becky keeps commenting on all the infections and such that are found in intestines. By the time we got our dinner on the table, I was thoroughly grossed out. Honestly, at this point, I wasn't even sure if I would eat it. But, then when both Ian and Becky tried it and seemed to not have adverse reactions...I dug in. Even though I only took a small bite, it was enough to last a lifetime. It had to be the grossest taste I have ever reminded me of bad meat. It was nasty. And to top it all off, I woke up completely sick the next morning. Though I am sure it was a coincidence, I still will never get close to haggis again in my life!


Our trip to Dublin got off to an early start. With three hours of sleep under my belt, we headed for the airport. I was hoping to catch some z’s on the plane, but soon learned that wasn’t going to be possible as our trip was only 40 minutes long! Once we arrived in Dublin, the passport control people didn’t seem so keen on Ian and Jessica. Maybe it was because we were American, but we were certainly getting questioned a lot (unlike everyone around us) before they decided to allow us into the country. It was kind of funny. Once we got into town we dropped our luggage at our hotel (which was much nicer than I expected) and headed out. We spent the better part of the day wondering around and getting our bearings. Then we headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap. After the nap, we headed out to dinner, where I managed to fall flat on my butt in the middle of the restaurant…it was great! After dinner we hit up the Temple City Bar, which I think is supposed to be famous for something…I am good with my history! It was full of people, most of which seemed to be tourists. The next day we went and visited the famous church in town. Some of the ruins at the church date back to the 1200’s. After the church we went over to the Guinness Storehouse…the home of Guinness. There we took a tour and learned about how beer is made. The highlights were this crazy waterfall in the middle of the building and the view of the city from the top of the building. That night we went to the movies and saw Quantum of Solace. It was probably the biggest and nicest theatre I have been in (at least in a while). At the beginning of the movie, there was an advertisement to visit Scotland…I thought this was funny. The advertisement made it seem a lot more exciting than it really is! Once the movie was over, we had the privilege of making the trek back to our hotel in the pouring rain complete with strong winds. Thankfully we were both in good moods and the walk didn’t spoil that. This morning, we headed out to the large park in town, where we rented a tandem bike to ride around. The bike rental guy said the park is three times larger than Central Park in New York, so I am guessing it is a pretty large park! Ian and I got off to a rough start on the tandem bike, but soon became pros at riding together. Apparently I enjoyed the ride better than Ian because when I suggested we buy a tandem bike, he quickly responded “no”! After the bike ride, we strolled around town a while before heading to the airport. All in all, it was a good trip. I am sure the people of Dublin wouldn’t like to hear this, but I think their city is a lot like Edinburgh!

You Look Like A...

They say never judge a book by its cover, but we all know everyone does. When you look at someone, how much can you really tell about them? People have said some interesting things about my appearance over the years, but the one I got today topped the cake. A guy came into my store today (a Scotsman, not an American) and declared that I look like a republican and he is pretty sure I voted McCain. I asked him what gave it away, and he said it was my hair. WHAT?!? Who knew hair could be republican or democrat? I have had some rather bazaar things said about me over the years, but this one takes the cake...or at least stands in first place next to me not looking married!

So, what do I look like to you? Do I look like a married, 27 year-old, barista that votes republican? Or perhaps a girl that loves her crock pot (can anyone say, "mmmm, yummy stew!)? Tell me, what exactly does my "cover" say about me?

Change is Happening

Where have all the republicans gone? When I woke up this morning, I woke up to an America that is controlled by Democrats. Yesterday in the election, the Democrats not only took the Presidency, but the House and Senate as well. As I read over Obama's victory speech from last night, I found some irony in him talking about the long lines and people out fighting to vote (insinuating it was all for him), as McCain stood strong during election day and took home 47% of the popular vote. Then, I tried to imagine what the next four years are going to be like, and honestly, I don't know. With Obama always talking about "change" and "hope", but never quite telling us what that is, I don't know what to expect. Yet apparently for 52% of you out there, you don't even need to know what this "change" and "hope" is, just that it is going to happen. I really do "hope" (see, I have the "hope" too!) that Obama surprises me and leads America in a direction it needs to go; steers us out of debt, controls our immigration and gives us a leader to be proud of. Its time for America to focus on America and making our country a truly wonderful place. Here's to hoping!
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