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I’ve wanted to update my About Me page for AGES.  Or four years.  Because somehow, I’m now 36.  Even stranger, my fiance has been my husband for nearly four years.  And the tiny human we made is now very tall and seventeen, nearly three years old.  They are awesome people and I’m glad we get to do life together.

However.  That’s not really About Me, is it?  But it’s been what I’ve been all about for awhile.  I no longer think in sentences, but Isla-isms and cartoon theme songs.  It’s a good day if Isla has a good day.  It’s a good night if I sleep.

We’ve moved to Skye from Edinburgh, into a house that’s needed more work than we originally thought.

I love our quirky house, but I’d love it more if we could plant it somewhere with neighbors.  And a bookstore.  And a Starbucks.  And my friends.

I’ve become accustomed to missing people.  Most of my friends are everywhere I am not.  Because I’ve moved a lot.  Before I met Neil, moving and starting over just seemed to be something I did.  I was good at it.  Until realised I didn’t want to do it anymore.

My first move was from Dallas to New York, I was a baby, but it counted.  I lived on both ends of Long Island, flitting between Mom’s house and Dad’s house and both sets of grandparents.

My Dad moved to Scotland when I was 12ish, and I started going back and forthish.  I was just a girl, landed at an airport asking the people of the country beyond its doors to love her.  I loved both.  I love both.  I’m from both.  I’m from neither.

I never kind of embraced my third-cultureishness, but there it is.

You tend to think about this stuff when you turn 36.  And you have conversations with your too-nearly-three year-old that go like this:

Isla:  Daddy’s from Embra.  So, where are you from, Mummy?

Me:  How long have you got?  Let’s just say Canada.

As I write this, I’m at my kitchen table in my kitchen on Skye, drinking coffee and eating cheese on toast.  The snow from two days ago has melted and I’m listening to country music.  Figure that out.

Neil is working from home as he does up here and Isla’s at school because she’s too smart, already.  We have New York magnets on the fridge.  Next to our penguin-in-a-kilt magnet.  I’m surrounded by books and those envelopes with bubble-wrap lining. I use them to send stuff to my friends, where ever they are.

I sometimes wonder if my confusing cultural clutter, even with it’s frequent-flyer positives, is well, confusing for Isla.  But then we have conversations like this:

‘Where are you from, Isla-Monkey?’

She avoids the question entirely.  I told you she was smart.

‘This is my home,’ she says.

‘Yeah.  Mine, too.’

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This is my home.

You Bring The Cheesecake

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Just one of my favourite photos from this year.  My girl.

If we were having coffee, I’d say thank you.  Thank you for meeting me at a coffee table, at the other end of a screen, on a curb, or on my couch.

Thank you for reading my rambles.

Thanks for the books, and the butterfly magnets and the mural.

Thanks for beers, real or fake, and the ones I owe you.

Thanks for the Altoids and the Beatles.  Even the unsolicited advice.  It makes for good material.

Thanks for those de-stress colouring books, which I actually find really stressful.

 

Thanks for not mentioning I need a haircut, and eye makeup.  And possibly more Prozac.

Thanks for the Baileys.  And for the glass with my name on it.  And for being there when we got the house.  And helping us move into it.

Thank you to Dad and Anne, for making Christmas dinner, and other stuff.  And thanks for being there that other night when I lost my shit.

Thanks for making a path for me, for fixing our heat, and for running ALL the hotels we’ve stayed in this year.

Thanks to Isla, for being an awesome individual, for making me laugh and cry.  And for falling asleep on me sometimes, still.

And thanks to Neil, for leaving when I turn on country music, and for always coming back.  I promise to never blog about the time I found you in the kitchen singing Red Solo Cup.

Let’s do it all again.

 

 

 

 

Altoids & Oreos

I figured you wouldn’t want to hear about how I can’t sleep. And then I do. And then I snap awake at 4 AM, and read by Kindle-light. How Isla goes to ‘school’ two mornings a week now, and I miss her after the first hour. How there’s a path around the house now, and that’s a good thing. But how, sometimes we, (OK, mostly I) want to lift this house and the path around it and plant it somewhere where there’s neighbours.

I figured you wouldn’t want to hear that on bad, cliche days my only happiness is my husband and my child, my books and the songs of Lee Brice.

However, you might be interested to know that my Mom came over to visit. And she brought me Wintergreen Altoids. How she stayed for two weeks and we only had two and a half fights. (I knocked half off because she brought me Altoids.)

We drove around looking for salmon and wool and world peace. We listened to The Beatles and she knitted me a sweater. Yes, really.

And after two weeks and two and half fights, I asked her to stay. Yes, really. She didn’t. The sweater’s a little big, but the visit was just the right size.

I’m not depressed. Or at least I know I shouldn’t be. Hell, I live in the most desirable place in Britain.

Scenery has got to count for something, right?

So. Not depressed. I just really like Oreos these days.

This is not a new feeling for me. When I first moved to Edinburgh, I missed my friends in Glasgow. When I was in Glasgow, I missed my student days. When I was a student, I should have stayed there.

Point is, I’m always missing something.

I didn’t grow up in the same place I was a child, and I’ve moved every five years ever since.

My sense of place and belonging has always been jumbled and fucked up. Home is more about people than a postbox. I know that. It makes life interesting, but also well, interesting.

When Mom was here we took her to Edinburgh. We rented a flat for four days. In our old building. The same building Neil and I moved into together, where we came home from work, and our honeymoon and the hospital with Isla.

Edinburgh gave me a bunch of my favourite things. And chip-shop pakora.

I’ve decided that as a place, Edinburgh is as close as I’ve come to home, as an adult.

Today, I’m thankful for Edinburgh, and all my friends there. All my friends and family, and friends who are family, everywhere. I’m thankful for everyone on this island. And my people on Long Island.

For my husband and my kid and for everyone that loves us, weird bunch that we are.

For the people who drink coffee and beer with me.

For the people who ate cookies with me in 1985, and the people who ate cookies with me last week.

Come visit.

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Scenic, right?

The Frosty North

Since we moved in we’ve had a gas leak, the washing machine won’t drain, the toaster blew a fuse.  And today, the boiler has packed in. But it’s still our house.  And apparently, it’s well, sensitive.  So.  Leave it alone.  Unless you’d like to come and fix the heat.

Actually, the same guy who fixed our farting stove two weeks ago is making another trip to fix the heat.  Don’t worry, he knows where we live.

In other news, we are online.  And we have cable TV.  And in a fit of DIY, my husband put our spare TV on our bedroom wall.  I know, I’m embarrassed enough for the both of us.

And I’m sitting here at the kitchen table.  We have one of those, too.  In related news, the new word for ‘distressed’ is ‘reclaimed’.  Furniture is now politically correct.

Neil and I spent Valentines weekend picking out and ordering our new socially-acceptable furniture.  Because we are middle-aged romantic like that.

In related news, before we braved the shops, I said if we came home with one of those entertainment centre thingies, we’ll have crossed a line from which there’s no return.

But we were safe.  Every bleary-eyed but somehow super-charged salesperson said, ‘they don’t make those any more.’

The thing was this.  Every shiny, pointy bit of bark that passed for a ‘TV table’ was the perfect height for Isla to fist-bump any TV off of it.

And so.  We found a sideboard thing and we ordered it without the ‘ornate’ top half.  That’s what passes for creative thinking these days.

So there’s a kitchen table for the laptop, a place for the telly box and a sofa big enough for three whole butts.

I still have my old faithful bookcases crammed with books.  They’re even slightly more organised than they were when I was 18.  Not really.

But I do have a TBR bookcase now.

And there’s a bird-feeder stuck to the kitchen window.  A seagull came to investigate it one day last week.  Isla learned a new word that day.

Apparently, the boiler needs a new part.  That’s another word.

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Isla is cold.  And unimpressed with her book.

 

Do you have any funny or not-so funny stories about moving and setting up home?

 

 

Dear Competition Judges

I’m writing to explain why I did not submit my story for your esteemed competition.

It’s because I suck.  And because I have a toddler.  And because the story has only one line.

‘Whose idea was this?’

Well, mine.

And I was very excited about it.  Until the week I had to write the story was the one week my husband had to work in his city office.  Which meant he wasn’t here to ply me with White Russians until I fell asleep  wrote a complete story.

And did I mention we’re moving?  Yeah, that’s next week.  I’m sharing the home office with empty bookshelves, full boxes and a bedframe.

And we’re still waiting to hear about our mortgage.  Which is y’know, kinda important for the move.  I spent a bunch of time this week gathering proof of residence, because I’m still American.  Apparently.  I sent copies of my green card (I really have one.  It’s actually a stamp.)  And then there were copies of my tax returns.

And I still needed more proof.  Two years of proof.  And so, I suggested we send them a picture of Isla.

I unpacked some utility bills and copied about 40 pages of bank statements.  At the bank. Because who gets paper statements any more?  So I went to the bank and probably rambled on a bit too much, but thankfully the lady at the bank was really understanding. Or maybe it was that thing where customer service people aren’t supposed to call customers really fucking stupid.

At least to their face.

As the paper pile grew, so did my heartburn.  How was I going to scan all this?  And would I like an envelope?

I took my envelope and my kid and trudged to the library.  I scanned four of the 40 pages and hoped for the best.

Even with all this daytime stuff happening, I thought I would be able to write my story at night.  But did I also mention that Law & Order: SVU is really good?  And that there are 5 different episodes a night 34 different channels?

I forget about this stuff when Neil is home.  Because, well, we read a lot.

And then there was Storm Gertrude, the awkward little sister of Storm Jonas.  She rattled some windows and kept me awake.  Which was good.  I got the whole story in my head.   When I got up from two hours of sleep, my new story threads were as frayed as my nerves.

Other stuff is happening that isn’t my story to tell, but I’m having flashbacks to my Grandmother with Alzheimers breaking out of movies and into other people’s cars. Flashbacks to eggnog and bacon-grease and nice teeth and peach polyester not-so-much power-suits.

And how, farther back than all that, she was my best friend.  And I still miss her every day.  These are weird, if somehow appropriate, feelings to have in the midst of packing up to move into my first home, with my favourite husband and my favourite kid, all of which I wish she was here to enjoy.

So, apologies for not writing a comedy that includes a cooking show and a paramedic.  I tried.  But life happens.

And, full disclosure here, I haven’t written a piece of fiction since before Isla was born.

I look longingly at my notebooks and prompt books.

And then I blog.  It would seem that these words are safer.  But I’d like to shake things up again.

The competition entry fee was part of my Christmas present from Neil.  Yesterday, I did some crying while I paid him back.  He didn’t ask, I just felt like a fraud.

I’m even tearing up now.  I can write over six hundred words about not writing.  That’s a real skill.

I’m going to really try at the new house.  Maybe unpack some new characters.

Starting with 500 words a day.  Coffee essential, White Russians optional.

Will write harder,

Lorna

youshouldbewriting

 

 

 

 

 

The Bookshelves Are Concerned

Before I moved in with Neil, I lived in six apartments over five years. Several of my landlords used my rent to pay for ski trips instead of their mortgages. Because that’s a thing. Anyway, there was legal stuff that had nothing to do with me. Except I had to move a lot, and with each new place I unpacked less and less.

When Neil and I met, I was down to my cat and my bookshelves. He bought me a coffee machine, which rounded out the kitchen. But really, my last Christmas party in Glasgow was just us, some friends, the cat and some chicken wings.

We moved in together and the bus-stop downstairs provided a weird kind of opera every Friday night. The boiler stopped working a bunch of times which meant there was a hole in our bedroom floor.  Which the plumber never got the chance to fix.

The old place was interesting. And truthfully, I miss it. It was where I set out pebbles and asked Neil to marry me, and then he turned around and asked me. It was where we landed after the honeymoon. It was where my husband told me I was pregnant.

It was Isla’s first home outside my body.

But when the opportunity arose and we moved to Skye, we were ready. OK, Neil was a little more ready than I was.

Even though we want Isla to grow up in the country with easy access to trees and y’know,  other country stuff, I was afraid we were giving up too much to soon. Things like time with friends.  And easy access to nachos.

But we did it.

Living with my Dad and Anne has been interesting. There’s been laughs and chocolate and episodes of Poirot. I have essentially moved my family in with my parents, and it’s been easier and harder than I thought it would be.

So we are on the move again. The three of us.

I’ve become good at moving. Home has always been more about people than walls for me. But I’m glad there’s a place for my people now.

I’ve never had a whole house to live in. I had a renter’s fear of holes in the walls, so I was careful about hanging the New York skyline that’s followed me through all my moves.

My furniture, including the bookshelves is flatpack, Ikea specials.

I left home at eighteen. The ceiling of my bedroom was purple. Every place since has been rented. And white.

As a twenty-something I would traipse around stores that aren’t Ikea, imagining what my ‘grown-up house’ would look like and the people and pieces that I would fill that home.  I might have even cried a little.

And now, I have my people. And other people who are always welcome to visit. Our furniture might be ‘beachy and distressed’ as per my Google search last night. But our (maybe purple) door will always be open.

 

 

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In February.

A New View

And so, I’m sitting in the office.  My desk is somewhere between Isla’s crib and one of the bookcases.  I kinda like that.  Symbolism.  Or something.

We moved up here with more than 17 boxes of books.  Yesterday was spent emptying them into the bookcases.

In the old flat, I knew them so well, I almost didn’t see them.  Favourites and doorstops, old schoolbooks I can’t part with.

Those have been moved to the loft.

What I’m looking at now are books I’ve dipped into and others I haven’t started.  There’s also some notebooks, a rolled up penguin poster, our wedding invitation, and one of those colouring books for adults.  Which I haven’t started.

Yet.  And for someone who has essentially moved back in with her parents, with her husband and their one year-old, in the same week as PMS, I’m surprised I haven’t had to break out my new coloured pencils.  Y’know, to etch bad words on my desk. I mean, to colour.

In other news, we have local library cards.  Like I have any business reading a book that isn’t in this house already.  But we have library cards.  Because I don’t feel at home anywhere until I can go somewhere and get free books with clear covers on their covers.

We left the building with a book on stargazing, because we can do that now.  Also two books for me and one for Isla.  She got a sticker, too.  I might have put the sticker on her forehead as we walked to the car.  Because that’s the kind of mother I am.

Isla seems to like me.  This morning, she head-butted me.  That’s how she shows appreciation.  Next week, we’ll work on blowing kisses.

And I’ll be working on sitting at this desk, looking out that window, writing more words.  And perhaps colouring.

The bird on the window is a decal. My timing is good, but not that good.
The bird on the window is a decal. My timing is good, but not that good.

***

And so, the bookcases are up and my desk has my computer on it.  And I have a library card.  After a move, what finally makes you feel at home?