maarmie's musings

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.