Archive for March, 2009

Language Barriers

While my husband and I speak the same language, we still find little discrepancies between British and American expressions. Even after nearly five years of marriage, I still find myself explaining such cultural phenomenons as opposite day, which came up during last Thursday’s episode of 30 Rock.

Apparently, kids in the UK don’t play the hilarious game of saying to friends: “I’d like to hang out with you…if it were OPPOSITE DAY!!”

Then he described playing “Tig” during recess at school, instead of “Tag.” Who would have thought that such a random word would have a different translation in the UK?

Other words, like garden (yard), estate agent (realtor), nappy (diaper) he’s grown accustomed to saying.  Now in that we’re in the South, I suppose we’ll have to start saying “Y’all”….

An Ode to a Dress

My wedding dress is officially gone. After a week of harassing our contact at the estate agent’s in London, we found out that the new tenant remembers seeing the big beige box containing the dress – and throwing it out.

She claimed she thought the box was full of papers. True, the dress was wrapped in tissue paper. Perhaps she could have looked a little more closely, but of course, we shouldn’t have left it behind.

I called the local government office, the landfill, and the porters, and they all said the same thing: “There is no hope.”

I found a spare set of spare keys to our old flat, and briefly considered using them to get into the flat when we visit London, just to make sure it isn’t there. My Dad, who is a lawyer, said this would be considered breaking and entering. I disagreed, telling him that because I have a key, I would not actually be breaking in. Obviously, if I got caught, I would use a different lawyer.

As exciting as a stealth non-break in would be, I am starting to realize that the dress is gone for good. It served me well. I wore it to two weddings: our official one in New York, in October, 2004, then again at a reception for our British friends and family in Birmingham, England.

Luckily, the dress was one of the cheaper ones for sale at Kleinfeld, the bridal emporium, back when it was only in Brooklyn. This loss might be a bit tougher to stomach if I had broken the bank. I wonder if there are any Vera Wangs in the landfill in Essex….

It was the second dress I tried on. I knew it was the right one, because both my mother and my maid of honor burst into tears when they saw me in it.

But I’ve never a huge dress person. When I told the Financial Times’s Fashion Editor I was engaged, she replied: “What are you wearing?” It took me a moment to figure out that she was talking about the dress I would wear to my wedding, and then another moment to say: “I don’t know.”

Kleinfeld cunningly cuts out brand tags so you can’t look for that same dress elsewhere. After that embarrassing interlude with the FT editor, I did some homework, and discovered: it was Pronovias, a Spanish brand, which features old school, billowy dresses that aren’t too cream puff.

While I wish my mother were here, so I could talk to her about this whole episode, I am glad for her sake that she doesn’t have to go through the emotional turmoil. Or a possible trip to a landfill in East London…..


A Prayer for Childcare

We interviewed a nanny yesterday, and asked her our standard question: how do you effectively look after two young kids, who are just 18 months apart, at the same time?

She paused, then replied: “I pray.”  She explained that she will ask God to keep the children safe while in her care.

While I admire her religious devotion, I worry that she might think that prayer takes some of the responsibility for the kids’ safety off of her.  I imagined coming home to find one of the kids injured, and hearing her say: “It was God’s will.”

Maybe I’m overreacting.  If she had mentioned prayer as her third, or even second option for helping her to watch over the kids, I would have felt a bit better. But as the first response, it made me think that perhaps we should look for someone who relied more on themselves, rather than their God, to help look after our kids.

Drive by greetings

I ran into a friend yesterday — not literally, thankfully. While I was making a left turn, I saw her waiting at a traffic light.

I tend to make eye contact with other drivers as I pass them. My theory is that this can reduce the risk of road rage incidents. It’s harder to get out and shoot someone if you’ve made eye contact. Or so I hope.

I recognized her as the mother of one of my daughter’s preschool classmates. We smiled and waved, and I drove on.

363305146605_0_sm2When I was in London, I ran into people on the street every day. I had lived in the same neighborhood for several years, so I encountered the same people often, at the gym, the grocery store, or at the doctor’s office. Most of us had babies we pushed around in strollers every day, rain or shine. 

Because we were always on foot, we could stop and chat. The driving culture here seems a bit more isolating. You really can’t have a conversation with someone you recognize, unless there’s a traffic jam. But that’s probably frowned upon.

An Ode to American Appliances

I am in awe of our washing machine and dryer. They are both massive, yet efficient.  3339670570233_0_sm-1In my seven and a half years in London, I never owned a dryer.  Our washing machine was tiny, so we ended up doing laundry all the time.

In our last flat in London, we had a combination washer/dryer. It was supposed to morph into a dryer once the washing cycle finished. Instead of drying clothes, though, it just made them incredibly hot.

When you tried to take the clothes out, forgetting how hot they were, you would drop them as you cursed the machine, then massage your burned hand, and watch as steam rose from the clothes that were then balled up on the kitchen floor.  

The washing and drying cycles took more than three hours. I can’t say precisely how long they took, because we never actually made it to the end. After three and a half hours, we finally aborted the cycle, and stuck to the “quick wash” function in subsequent washes (still an hour and a half long).

To dry clothes, we hung them on a rack in the bathroom.  Sheets we draped over doors. One weekend, when both kids had the flu, we had to do about ten loads of laundry to clean  the ensuing rivers of vomit.

There were pants hanging over doorknobs, socks on drawer handles, and towels on the floor.  The whole place smelled of damp and mold.  

So the most awesome part of our new dryer is that we actually have one.

Lost A Dress

cocktail_hour_sra_bustling_the_dressAs I gazed at a wedding photo on our mantle last night, I realized that I hadn’t seen my dress in a while.

In fact, I couldn’t remember pulling it out of one of the 90 boxes that we shipped from London.

I searched the house — we still have several boxes we haven’t unpacked (true, we’ve been in the house for more than a month, but when you start out with 90, having about five we haven’t gotten to yet doesn’t seem so bad).

I couldn’t find it. We checked the movers’ inventory list of the all boxes and their contents, and didn’t see it listed.

It’s been in a big box for the four and a half years since the wedding. In our London flat, it was parked rather inconveniently behind our couch. We didn’t have any other space for it.

Ironically, now that we have the space to store, or even take it out of the box and lie it out, it’s missing.

We can only surmise that it’s sitting in the closet in the flat where we lived for six months before we moved here. At least I hope it is. While the dress isn’t something I wear often, or even think about, I’d like to think it’s in the house. Or even the country.

I wonder, if someone found it in our old rental flat, would they wear it? Or throw it away, to make way for their own bulky items that don’t fit elsewhere in the flat?

I had hoped that my daughter might one day look at my wedding dress. Maybe even wear it. But then, not a single one of my friends wore their moms’ wedding dresses on their big day. They all wanted their own.

And both of my sisters-in-law say that theirs disintegrated over the years, despite their best efforts to keep them pristine.

But all my friends and nieces at least looked at their mom’s dresses. None of them said that their mom had misplaced her dress during an international move.