maarmie's musings

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

To the Maxx

Three to four days a week, I will be putting on my uniform for work: black pants, black shoes, a white shirt and a tan sweater vest.

It seems I graduated from high school and university and got a decade of experience in the communications field to be a checkout girl at TK Maxx. Don't get me wrong. I'm glad to have a job. They are hard to come by these days. Employers have their pick, and my fabulous bosses at TK Maxx didn't have to take a chance on an overqualified American whose visa expires in a month and who has a baby and can only work when her husband is home. Lots of people applied for the positions, and they picked me and a few others.

On the bright side: a 10 percent discount and not having to put my daughter in child care. That's got to be worth something, right?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

18 months old today

A friend and I were going to take our daughters to Nairn Beach today and have lunch at a cafe afterward, but the weather was nasty. The boys came back from a two-day camping trip this morning and shared photos and stories - mostly stories about the midges that make camping in Scotland a nightmare.

Elliot is 18 months old today. While she might be a little behind on her verbal abilities (she can say about 15 recognizable words - do animal sounds count? rowwwwwrrrrrr!), she's forging ahead where her motor skills are concerned. She loves to run and climb and kick and throw and is proving to be quite a handful as well. She wants to do what she wants to do, and if you tell her no, she does it anyway. If you physically remove her from what she wants, she screams and puts on quite a show. I was told that's how I was when I was young. Bullheaded. Willful. Strong minded.

I'm still looking for a job. The latest round of applications have all been sent to the local hospital, the biggst employer in town. We'll see...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


Wales was pretty cool. The language might seem weird and all, though, with its many consonants and not very many vowels in any given word and all the double consonants and unlikely consonant combinations. Exactly how does one pronounce bwrdd, anyway?

The four of us and C*'s mother stayed in a three-bedroom caravan for a week on the grounds of a golf and country club in Llanrhystud (pronounced lan RYE sted) near Aberystwyth. The town in which we stayed contained a small grocery, a gas station, a post office and a pub, all we needed for a quiet vacation in the country. We toured Aberystwyth, went to a local beach, walked in the woods, swam and played a bit of tennis. C* and The Boy brought their bikes and went on some rides. Best of all, though, were the sheep. There were millions of them.


And millions.


Dotting every field.

Wales is nothing BUT fields!

So many that it made Scotland seem sheepless.

I'm talking a major amount of sheepage.

And all I wanted to do - really wanted to do - the whole trip was to pet a sheep. Just one. Just walk over to it and pet it. One of the cute little sheep. Not a big one. Not an ugly one. Not one with a black crust of shit matted under its tail. A nice, clean, white, smallish, cute one. Only once during the whole trip did I ever get anywhere near in petting range of a sheep - and that wasn't until we were back in England. But the sheep, they don't like people much. And they ran, and they ran.

No sheepies for maarmie.


Elliot really liked the caravan and the toys that granny brought her. Ruben liked the chocolate and cakes every day and made a few temporary friends at the caravan park. I liked the few times that C* and I got out alone together to play tennis or a few games of billiards down th'Black Lion.

The drive back home took a few days because we stopped for a couple of nights at C*'s friend's house near Carlisle. We drove a bit through the Lake District on the way. Beautiful, beautiful.

I didn't get many photos, unfortunately. It was all over in a blur. Here's the best of what I got:

One of the lakes in the Lake District. We had a picnic dinner here.

C* and his mate and our kids in a sheep pasture near Carlisle.

Most of the gang. Missing two mothers and two more kids.

Only the coolest bus I have ever seen. Near the caravan park in Wales.

Elliot braving the rough terrain on a steep and treacherous hike in Wales.

Kids on stone. Lake District.

Elliot running free on the grounds of a stone circle, Lake District.

Monday, July 13, 2009


We've had a bit of warm weather lately, up in the mid 70s! I've been cursing what I have come to see as hot weather, but a run of cooler weather and rain put me off my bitching and moaning. Better to have it a bit hot and sunny than cold and rainy.

The sunshine has been good for our veggies. We're growing courgettes (zucchini), broccoli, little gem lettuce, carrots, peas, beans and rocket. I made a rocket salad to go with our dinner last night, and it was delicious. Here's a photo of our little patch of heaven:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Life in the UK!

I read the chapters, and I studied the material for hours and hours and hours and hours. I worried and worried. And studied and studied. And, yesterday, I passed my Life in the UK test. Woo!

There were six of us there to take the test: four white women - including myself - a man from India and another man from Iran. The test was 24 questions long, and we had 45 minutes to complete it. I was done in 4 - and that included checking it over three times! Easy peasy macaroni cheesy. I studied so much for nothing, and, as usual, worried so much for even less. That was the easiest test I ever took in my life.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Am I really that different?

I was just reading over some old blog posts, and I'm shocked at how different my life is and how different I have become over the last two years. Used to be that I would write semi-interesting and somewhat funny posts about anything...nothing...and now? I go to play group, bake cheese scones and write about my baby.

Gone are the posts about adventures. Gone is so much of the spontenaity and vitriol. Where has my sense of outrage gone? It's still there, inside me, isn't it? Just kind of pushed to the back as I concentrate more on what's in front of me than on things I cannot see? Is it?

Now I feel so old. So boring. So deflated and hollow. Maybe things that annoyed or outraged me in the past just don't carry the same weight now that I am a mother. Maybe I can see there are more important things in life than some asshole in Minnesota who yelled at me or some dickhead in Tallahassee who couldn't fuck? Really, what was I fighting for?

Was I more interesting then? Am I more myself now? Do I have a better perspective on life? Or am I just in a holding pattern? Has my brain turned to mush? My creativity sapped? Am I more empty - or am I very, very full?

Not a nut girl?

I got my first rejection letter today from a job for which I applied and interviewed. I'm not too broken up about not getting the job, a six-hour-a-week gig selling nuts and candy out of a not-quite-a-stall-but-not-quite-a-store in the mall. But I really, really need some work.

The way the minimum wage works over here is ridiculous and pretty much makes it attractive for employers to practice age discrimination as often as possible. The minimum wage here is dependent on the worker's age. People 22 and older get £5.35 an hour; people 18 to 21 get £4.45; and people 16 to 18 get £3.30. If you are younger than 16, employers can pay you whatever the fuck they feel like, because there IS no minimum wage for that age category. Considering people are allowed to work if they are 14 or older, that leaves a lot of kids open and vulnerable to the whims of greedy employers.

The only reason I can think of for this tiered minimum wage is that the government wants to discourage youngsters from dropping out of school at 16 and maybe wants to encourage traditional college-aged kids to go to university instead of settling for some really low-paying job. Dunno, but I'm quite sure the nut kiosk is wanting to hire a younger worker that will be forced to accept one to two pounds less per hour of identical work.


Yesterday, I had a two-hour activity marathon that counted as an interview at a fabulous baby store at which I have often shopped. Seven contenders showed up for the first of two sessions where we did activites and exercises that assessed our personalities and how we acted as part of a team. I showed up dreading it, but it was actually very fun - and the manager was right: It lets them actually SEE what the applicants are like. As usual, I was very gregarious, maybe too much so. Not sure if that's what they are looking for, but time will tell.

The only thing I know for sure at this moment is that I am not a nut girl, and, for that, I am very grateful.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I have to start this post by saying that my recent vacation near Edinburgh was both more fun than and not as fun as I thought it would be. We didn't see as many sights as I thought we would (plans to go to an aquarium, the Edinburgh Zoo and a festival in Edinburgh all crashed and burned due to tiredness, poor planning, lack of time or crappy weather), but Elliot and I grew closer than ever and it was neat to see how a different environment taught me things about Elliot and her capabilities that I either wasn't aware of or hadn't been appreciating.

A friend of mine here in Inverness - one who happens to be an American from Seattle - was going to be staying at her husband's parents' home in a suburb of Edinburgh (South Queensferry) for nine days while her husband was on a field trip for school. She knew I desperately needed to get away for a while and invited me along with her 2 1/2-week-old daughter. I was happy to be going but kind of knew it wouldn't be all that exciting what with a newborn and very tired mother in the mix, and I was nervous that Elliot wouldn't settle in the new environment.

I almost pulled out of the trip at the last second. I texted my friend saying that I was thinking of not going even as she was on her way to my house to get me. But I ended up going in the end, and you know what? I was right. Overall, it was a massively tiring hassle. But I'm glad I went. Here's why.

Halfway down, we stopped at The Taybank, a pub known for its many varieties of hash. Not the Amsterdam type, mind you, but the corned beef variety.

The Taybank had a lovely menu, outdoor seating and a fabulous beer garden with a good view, the nicest beer garden I've seen since I've lived here.

After sharing a delicious meal of some kind of seaweed-stuffed chicken breast, roasted potatoes and summer veggies, Elliot and I walked across the road to the beer garden and visited with another family. Unafraid of dogs, unfortunately, Elliot chased after the family's pet and made a new temporary friend.

When we got to our temporary home in South Queensferry, I saw that I'd have my week cut out for me as far as the house is concerned. There hadn't been a small child in that house for decades, and there was stuff everywhere. Pins, scissors, all manner of books and CDs, knick knacks, stacks of papers, all within easy grasp of a very curious 15-month-old. To her credit, though, Elliot didn't mess with much of their stuff. I was beyond shocked that she wasn't constantly digging through all the things she could have potentially destroyed while we were there. I was also shocked by how well she adjusted to her temporary sleeping quarters, a travel cot next to a single bed in a small bedroom I shared with her for the week.

She's used to a very dark room, however, so I blocked out the light by covering the windows with black garbage bags. Oh, and I had to let her sleep in the bed with me a few of the nights. Oh, and she screamed and screamed most nights when I put her to bed. And when I put her down for her midday nap. But she was pretty good. I guess.

The three adults and two kids went for a nice walk the next day in this really wooded area near Linlithgow. It was really beautiful, and I wanted to go back the next weekend. Sadly, we never got back there. I'd like to, someday. Elliot would, too.

My friend's husband left us for his field trip, and, while he was gone, my friend holed up in one room of the house with her baby and barely came out. I remember those days, when you're up every two or three hours feeding, burping and changing baby and you feel like you've been hit by a truck. While I could sympathize, it didn't make us being largely on our own in a small town any easier.

I suppose I could have taken a bus to god-knows-where or figured out the train to Edinburgh, but I didn't want to go on my own. So, Elliot and I took walks and played in the backyard. One of our first walks was to the old part of town, the town's city centre boasting not much more than a few shops, a few restaurants, a store and a pub. But the water was there, and Elliot liked the view. This rail bridge connects North Queensferry and South Queensferry.

Here's Elliot showing off her new hat.

And here's her beautiful smile.

I eventually made my way to Edinburgh a couple of times, the first time with my friend to meet up with a friend of hers for coffee and the second time just with Elliot. The first time was fun. Elliot likes making new friends in any coffee shop I go to, and I let her walk around on the sidewalks near the coffee shop. So! Many! People! To! Make! Friends! With! This photo is in the coffee shop. As you can see, she's nearly always eating.

When Elliot and I went to Edinburgh on our own, I returned to the park C* and I went to the first time I ever came to Scotland - before marriage, before baby, before all the complications of life had a chance to set in. C* and I had ice cream then, and I bought an ice cream this time for Elliot and me to share. Elliot had a lot of ice cream and sweets on this trip, a huge departure from her very very low-sugar diet. I figured a little indulgence on vacation would do no harm.

Elliot is a great traveling companion, and I can tell she loved having new things to see and do. She had a lot of smiles that week and quite a few first-time experiences. I feel she grew as a person in more ways than one on that trip - or maybe I just saw her in a whole new light. There are many more new experiences to come for us, my daughter and me. My little bebo, my little love.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Tomorrow morning, I'm off for 8 days to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, with Elliot, a friend and her newborn. Is it going to be much of a vacation? Elliot will undoubtedly be unseltted most of the time we are there, and my friend is craving a lot of help with her newborn. This vacation is gonna suck. I can feel it.

Monday, May 25, 2009


I've been really homesick lately, and I don't know what to do about it. There's no money with which to travel, and noone in my family is going to be coming here anytime soon.

I've been trying to get in touch with my parents. I write e-mails and don't hear back for ages. When I do hear back, it's only a one- or two-sentence reply, and they haven't called since Christmas. I've been calling them over the last few days, but there's never any answer, and they don't call back. I guess I'm good and truly well an orphan now.

Readers might say that I haven't spoken very highly about my parents on this blog, so why would I be so upset at not hearing from them. Well, the answer is simple. I speak on here out of frustration, a desperate thwarted longing to have the kind of relationship with my parents that I have never - and likely will never - have. Instead, I continually feel rejected, like they don't think I'm good enough or don't want to waste their time talking to me, don't want to hear when things aren't going well, don't want to be burdened by a daughter who needs emotional support when things aren't working out as planned.

I love and need my parents just like anyone else. But what's a girl to do when her parents don't seem to love or need her in return? I don't know what else I can do. I don't know what I did in the past to cause this. I don't know who I could have been to have made things turn out any different.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Depression sucks

I probably shouldn't have stopped taking my meds months ago, because now I'm in the middle of a serious bout of depression. It was all I could do this afternoon to take Elliot to the park so she wouldn't be cooped up in the house all day. It's not helping that I seem to have some sort of illness that, combined with immense stress, has given me a perma headache and made my stomach all queasy.

My visa expires in October, and I am on the verge of applying for indefinite leave to remain, a status that would allow me to stay indefinitely whether I apply for citizenship or not. The stress of the past couple of years combined with recent depression combined with recent and not-so-recent not getting along with my husband is causing me to pause and figure out if I want to take this next step or just go back to Florida, daughter in tow.

I love my husband, but both of us can be hard to live with. I think he's harder to live with than I am, though, but perhaps that belief is what makes me hard to live with. Also, my attitude towards his son has been appalling at best. I don't know what to do to be a good stepmother. I don't know how to act. I don't know how to get closer to my husband's son while getting rid of my jealousy over always feeling like the odd man out when my husband and his son are together. I don't know how I can fit into their lives, but, more than that, how to become my husband's best friend and how to make it so that we will finally show each other the respect we each are due. I feel like my husband has built a wall around him and that I'm on a trampoline on the outside always jumping, jumping, jumping.

I hate the constant nitpicking, the constant feeling that I'm living with someone who resents me, the constant wanting of more time alone with my husband - more attention and more love. Life seems to hold little joy for us right now. It's just one day after another of going to work, taking care of baby, trying to keep the house in some semblance of order and trying to keep the bank account out of overdraft.

Don't we all want more? Is it around the corner? Do we have to live through the bad to get to the good? Or is this all there is?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

They never listen

May 12 was my birthday. On that day, my best friend here in Scotland, an American from Seattle, gave birth to her first child, a daughter she has given six names, the first one being Neve. Having known this woman for at least the past three months, I have coached her on what to expect during the last month or so of pregnancy, what to expect during birth and what to expect during the first six months of her daughter's babyhood. Sadly, I have expounded at length and dwelled mainly on the negative bits, partly to try and prepare her for the hell that is to be her life and party to unload my own trauma from sleepless nights past.

Three words: They never listen.

Labor was going to be breeze for her, she said. After all, she had learned some breathing techniques and was prepared to resort to meditation lest things get too painful. After heartily guffawing at her pathetic pain coping strategies, I warned her sternly that breathing would not help. Meditation would not work. I told her to prepare for hours upon hours of searing pain that would make her beg for death. I warned her.

Three words: They never listen.

So she's in the hospital on May 11 with contractions. She's had some bleeding and, later, her mucus plug let loose. Contractions, contractions, contractions. Waiting, waiting, waiting. At only one centimeter dilated, she was begging for every drug under the sun and took up the midwives on the offers of injections and pills, all to little avail. Where was her breathing? Where was the meditation? Maybe she meant "mediCation?"

One edpidural and several hours later, she was stuck at seven centimeters and had to have an emergency C-section. The two are healthy and happy now, if a bit sleep deprived. Complaining of the past couple of sleepless nights and the ensuing fatigue, I told my friend that's just a little taste of the coming attraction. Already, she doesn't believe me. I can see it in her eyes.

Three words: They never listen.

She will soon see.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

April baby photo

She loves to play chase, peekaboo and throw the ball. She spends her time listening to stories and looking at the pictures, cuddling her stuffed animals and talking on any phone she can get her pudgy little hands on. And she's a sucker for running around outside and visiting with anyone and everyone in random coffee shops.

Wouldn't you visit with as many people as you could, too, if everyone simply adored you? This broad's got it all.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Even smart women can be so very dumb

I just got finished reading this 600-page monstrosity of a book about Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, a tome about their upbringings, the social climates in which they lived and the historical events and political shifts that shaped their lives and relationships both with each other and with other "contingent" loves.

Beauvoir, one of the brightest female minds of her time, fancied herself an independent woman, a bohemian feminist who would not be tethered by the demands of a conventional marriage or children. During her lifetime, she managed a 50-year relationship with JPS, undoubtedly the one great love of her life. In the beginning, they both enjoyed their unconventional "marriage" by taking on many different lovers and following their careers and interests with passion. In the end, Sartre was a nasty, ugly old fuck surrounded by girls barely out of their teens who wanted him for his fame and money while Beauvoir sat fearfully and tearfully by, old and alone and terrified that she would lose her place as Queen of the Heap.

During their time together, Beauvoir seemed constantly on the prowl, ready to sabotage any tryst that became too serious for her taste, so eager was she to maintain her position in Sartre's life. How is this any different than the most fearful and tearful traditional wife who keeps finding phone numbers in her husband's jacket pocket after supposed late nights at the office?

Now they are both dead, and their memoirs are all that's left to speak about their feelings toward the other. Beauvoir's memoirs brim with her longing for Sartre. His memoirs barely speak of her at all.

Well, look at the bright side of things. At least she got to be at his beck and call for 50 years and to write and edit a good deal of his work while he sat drunk and stinking and was out fucking other women and buying them apartments, that is until he went blind and his diabetes and heart problems crippled him to the point that someone had to care for him 24 hours a day. That someone was Beauvoir.

Oh, those great loves...

Sunday, February 08, 2009

February update

Months go by and I don't write a thing, I know, but I honestly feel, most times, that I have nothing to say. Elliot this. Elliot that. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Elliot will be a year old on Wednesday. I'm having a little party and inviting my Invernesian friends for some food, spirits and cake. Just a low-key event to celebrate one whole year of somehow managing to keep my spawn alive, safe and - gasp! - even happy.

Since my last post, Elliot has had her first fever and her second cold, cut her first teeth (late bloomer like momma) and started standing on her own as well as walking around and around every room while hanging onto whatever furniture happens to be along the way. She has also somehow managed to start getting out of her sleeping bag when I put her down for a nap. When she goes into her cot, the bag is zipped and snapped, but when I go up to get her from her nap, the bag is unsnapped but still zipped and is either on top of or underneath her. A regular baby Houdini!

In other news: C* and I have been going to relationship counseling every week for the past couple of months. Our relationship hit rock bottom a couple weeks before Christmas but is enjoying somewhat of a Renaissance at the moment. Will we make it? Will we crumble? Which is harder: marriage or motherhood? I'd have to say marriage - by far. Motherhood? A piece of cake compared.

Yay Obama. Boo Israel. Yay Guantanamo closing. Boo economy. Yay equal pay law. Boo Limbaugh (as always). Boo Chicago politics. Boo bank bailouts. Boo! Boo! Boo!