Monday, September 19, 2011

Updates & Americans Abroad

I haven't chimed in on Amie's blog lately so I thought I'd give you a few updates in no specific order or importance.

Alaska - Alaska deserves it's own post so I'll not do that here but it was amazing and we will do a full update with pictures and witty commentary.

Eye-Ball - If you've been reading this blog for a while you'll remember my near blind experience. While in the Bay Area after Alaska I flew to Utah to "see" my Eye Doctor real quick. Happy to report that my right eye "the good one" is still, well, good. My left eye, from my own diagnosis, hadn't gotten any worse and I estimated that if anything had improved only marginally. After the bright light blinding scans and scopes the doctor confirmed that my eye, still is recovering nicely and the "fluid pocket" causing my distorted vision and blind spot has receded by 25%. Hopefully be end of year it will have improved enough so that I can actually read using that eye. No complaints however, the prior diagnosis would have meant this was permanent.

Family - While in Utah I saw my family. Family is family which means they are simultaneously awesome as well as infuriating. Two cases in point.

1. My sister and her family are awesome. Always happy to see me, shows pictures of me and talks about me enough that my little niece and nephew remember me when I come and they let me jack up their children pretty much unabated (last visit taught 2 year old how to run with sparklers in each hand). Right after my eye appointment was over I called my sister to see if I could "drop by" to see Dexter (my nephew) today on his birthday. I don't think she even knew I was in town before the call but invitation to lunch with them and I'm on my way. Stopped by the toy store to get the most awesomely cool thing that he'd like that would simultaneously drive his parents crazy. Nerf like bow and arrow thing later and we're in full "ninja mode" systematically taking out items of value all over the house. Thanks for including me in the big day and letting me around your children despite the court order.

2. Mothers and pet peeves. I know they say that you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat their mother. Let's be fair here, I love my mother. I am the man I am today because of her (no, the good stuff). I treat my mother very well to her face and since she'll never read this I can say what I want here. Anyway let me back up here. Amie has learned the hard way that I don't respond well to people eating of my plate. If you want a bite, great fine, ask for a bite and I'll be happy to load up your fork or push my plate closer to you so you can do it your self. What I don't like is this un-invited encroachment on what is my personal food stash. Now this may sound a bit heavy handed need to understand that this stems from, well my mother. For years growing up my mother did something that still doesn't make a lot of sense to me. She likes to sample everything everyone else is eating but won't get her own. There IS a difference between tasting and grazing. If you have a bowl of cereal, she'll walk to the drawer, get a spoon out and come and start "eating your cereal" right along with you. Have a plate of mac and cheese, fork on in. Have some sort of finger food, fingers diving right* in. No warning or otherwise reason for this behavior, she's clearly had cereal before and understand that it takes maybe 30 seconds to make a small bowl for yourself so why get into my personal space to eat my food right in my face? When confronted with this feature of my mother including the disgusted pushing food away from me and saying "here you finish it" the response is always the same. "No, I just wanted a bite", as she's now 4 bites in and has irrevocably tainted* my food and put me off to whatever I'm eating. Needless to say, Amie's been at the receiving end of my vitriol for acceptable versions of this simply due to the build up of resentment I have over this from my mother, who despite being told for years to stop doing this, did anyway.

15 years later on my latest trip to Utah my mother is still at it. I took this picture as she reached over my lap and proceeded to re-image my greatest pet peeve directly attributable to my mother. Mom, if you ever somehow find this blog and read this, I love you and I'm not sorry I wrote this.

Sam - On a brighter note I also got to see Sam, my Ex-Dog while at my sisters. Sam is doing well, he sleeps all day and tolerates the kids. He of course was very happy to see me and launched a "flying hurachi" at me when I got there with accompanying whine. He's staked out a futon downstairs, uses the doggy door, rolls around in the grass and walks the kids to the bus stop. I think he's eased into his "retirement" as Grand dog to my nephews very well. Amie obviously misses him and is in denial (see picture) as she tired to walk a bus stop ad dog in SF and believes that she'll get him back in 2013.

Walking around on Sunday I got to see the final few laps of the Tour of Britain (UK's version of the Tour de France). It was cool to see and although Amie would have enjoyed it much more than I. It made me think that watching the Tour de France would be best done in the country side on a hill so you could see it much closer and slower to enjoy. See video here to see what you wait 17 minutes per lap to see.

Americans - Now that I've been in London for a whopping two months and can "blend in" (not really) I've started to notice more about my countrymen. Americans are obnoxious. Why is it we can't help but be loud, obvious and uneducated looking or sounding? Two cases in point. I went out to dinner Friday with a UK (ok he is actually Irish but he's lived in the UK long enough) friend and while at the bar he simply says, "when you get a chance look to your nine o'clock". We continue to drink and chat and roughly a minute later I glance over when adjusting my sitting stance anyway. Gordon Ramsey is sitting there with some other dude my friend knew but I didn't recognize. Tact decorum and discretion all ruled the event....until an American saw him. I understand why celebrities don't go out in public.

Second case in point. I walked over the one large sports bar in all of London to watch the NFL on Sunday. Let's just say this. When I got there all the British Soccer fans were there watching Man U vs. Chelsea (Man U 3 Chelsea 1) , they were rowdy but fun and I wouldn't call them the most behaved people but they don't constantly and pervasively display levels of simultaneous ignorance and over bearing self importance. American's on the other hand (and this is just a collection of the things I saw and overheard in the Sports bar from a collection of Americans).

Guy wearing a Dallas Cowboys polo, perfectly creased chinos, cowboy boots, blue belt with US flags all the way round, blue hat with US flag plastered on the front as he stomped around the bar in his boots, grabbing his crotch endlessly while speaking loudly on his cell phone in a Texas accent saying such things as, "Bobby did you see my boy play this mornin, he was on fire and I can't tell you how much I love to see that boy run".

Guy from San Jose (at least he was a Niner fan), saying in contempt that larger TV room had European Basketball (Finland vs.Croatia) on instead of the 49er / Dallas game. Let's keep in mind two things here - there were 8 of us watching the 49ers game. There were 60 watching the European basketball finals (a game the US invented mind you) and this asshole thinks that the bar should put on what he believes is the only possible choice for a TV in a bar in London?

And finally the relatively plump unattractive up state New Yorker who simply gave her opinion on everything under the sun (by my estimate about 40% of what she said was factually inaccurate, but that didn't stop her from sharing) while simultaneously hitting on anything that moved as she slowly made her way around the bar like Jabba the Hut looking for snacks.

Punch line - People are amazing, both good and bad and while a few weeks ago I ripped the British a new one I've found that context matters a lot. One day you are looking down your nose at somebody and the next you realize somebody else was looking down their nose at you. We are all part of the problem and I guess all I ask is a little self reflection and humor on the world will go a long way.

Small reminder - our stay is 10% over. If you don't make arrangements to visit us soon we'll be home by the time you get your shit together. Way to go A&J who have made the first confirmed commitment to join us in Europe. Austria and Scotland!

* If you noticed the asterisk in the section about my mother and you've read this far here you go. Instead of simply eating over your shoulder (the proximity to my face while she did this was only half the problem). The other is that my mom did something else that made this experience untenable. When using either a fork/spoon or her fingers to share in my food bounty she would "clean" her implements by licking them clean in between session of food plundering. So if the simple act of sharing my food is what you think bothered me so much now you really know why this set me off. Even though Amie, nor anyone else I know does this, the damage is done. Sorry to Amie who has to experience the aftershocks of this behavior to modern day. We've come up with a very cordial way to share food in our relationships to avoid conflict and flashbacks. PS. "the offender" can be seen in the background of my nephew picture.

No comments: