Thursday, April 10, 2008


So my tida, Dandoo and her husband BIL are expecting.  Because I am creative, I thought about using her sonogram picture on a tee-shirt to give to her when I just saw her a couple of weeks ago, saying "Foetus's first Easter".  Because I am slack, this did not happen.
We have taken to calling the unborn one "Bumpy".  It amuses me greatly for many reasons.  One, hearing my nephew say Bumpy in his slow Georgia drawl is funny as all get out.  Second, the name makes me think of Bumpy Johnson, the gangster and the contrast between our sweet, innocent pre-baby and a violent gangster leaves me rolling.  Third, Dandoo did not want us to call the wee one Bumpy, which is mainly the reason why we decided to call it Bumpy.  Personally, I would like it enter university with this moniker, having graduated high school as Bumpy Townes.  We knew someone like that: his cousin asked his mum if they could nickname him Tidy Bowl.  So they did, which was shortened to Tidy, which then morphed into Toddy and again shorted to Todd.  He graduated high school as Todd Jones (or whatever the hell he's called cos I actually don't remember him very well, but the story certainly stuck), but he name was completely different.
Anyway, back to Bumpy.  Reason four for Bumpy: it's a better name than It.  That's what Dandoo was calling the Bumpster.  And let's be clear, it has to be spelled B-U-M-P-Y, not B-U-M-P-E-E, as the Grandmother spells it.  Cos Bumpee is just wrong.  It's like something you buy someone that they put their nappies in. 
Dandoo does not know Bumpy's gender and is considering name for both.  She has just vetted Brio, saying something about Italian music and stuff like that.  As I was saying to her, if names were on a scale, one side being cool (James Bond, anyone?) and one side being funny (Chikezie, anyone?), then Brio would be this side of funny.  Am I not right people?
Here are some of my suggestions (I'm totally in favour of what one friend called "Old Skool Bibilical Names", the odder, the better):
Matilda (or Mathilda)
Honeybee (wrong, but cute)
Blakely (I have a friend with that name, but I like)
Cupcake (again, wrong, but so right)
Hosea (heard it just recently)
Ezra (Better than...)
Dexter (call him/her Dex)
Now that I think about it, maybe it was good I didn't get the Foetus's First Easter T-shirt for Dandoo, as we now have established that Foetus's name is actually Bumpy.  So maybe I'm not so slack after all.  Well, considering I have a mountain of work to do and I have written two blog entries in quick succession, I think I'd better wear that slack hat after all.

Cultural vertigo, plus All-new featured Scottish word

Fellow blogger Hadashi introduced me to this term, cultural vertigo, of which I am digging on.  This is the feeling of which I blogged about so unsuccessfully in the last few entries.  I like this cos it really did feel like a dizziness.  Hadashi's husband is in the same boat as me, living in a culture outwith his own.  It makes me wonder if this is his choosing -- if he had a chance, would he move back home?
I don't know if I'll really ever have that chance.  Boy has let me know that he hates living in the US.  I wish he wouldn't say that, cos that's my culture he's dissing, but honestly, I do get it.  I think I touched a little bit on the idea of how disgusting I found some aspects of life there.  It's all... bloated.  Big and puffy.  Big and puffy towns, bursting from their seams and eroding whatever else is there previously.  Yeh, people are like that too, but it was the lack of regard for the environment and the land that I found shocking.  Callously mowing down trees and woodland for houses that won't be sold, can't be sold.  The whole-hearted acceptance of the "paved paradise and put up a parking lot"-ness of life there.  That sounds slightly extreme, the use of the word "whole-hearted" for no-one's out there picketing for more subdivisions.  However, though days of adroit Biblical references have long sense past, didn't Jesus say something like there is no lukewarm?  If you're lukewarm, you're just cold, so by that definition, we are all whole-heartedly accepting this.
Ah, if you could just visit my Edinburgh, you'd know why I like it.  It's compact and navigable.  The bus service is comprehensive and walking is a joy.  We have no car but we don't need one.  The architecture is lovely, oozing with character, charm and history.  It can envelope you in warmth like a granny.  But along with it's compactness comes a conservatism.  The people and ideas are reserved and limited, as if because the city can't grow, one's thoughts are unable to.  That is what I miss about the States.  Like its cities, the thoughts, ideas, affection of its people bubbles up and spills over.  So there it is: Edinburgh would be nice, if it weren't for the people.  Hmm... don't think I'm getting to the bottom of this cultural vertigo anytime soon.
I've been asked a few times to bring back the "Featured British word" section I had on the right-side margin.  I had to shut that down cos 1) the tag board I had set up for people to answer in was getting mad spammed by these utter weirdos (said in a right Scottish accent -- it is said absolutely brilliantly, with the r rolled so deliciously) with Greek names; and 2) no-one was answering it anyway!  But I'll do it again since my pregnant sister asked after it a couple of times.  She's pregnant!  My family's decided that's her excuse for all the crap she'll be doing and talking for the next few months -- love you kid! 
So here's your Scottish word: burl.  It is a verb and it is burlie in it's noun form.  If you have a scooby, then answer in the comment section of this blog.  Some of you might have already had the good fortune of hearing use this word and I might have even used it in one of my previous posts (hint, hint).  Good luck.  (PS - please get this one cos my next one is really good!  It's another Scottish, rather than British word -- I think Scottish words are properly good.)

Monday, April 07, 2008

Things missing from our recent US trip

  • One backpack containing a running top, a waterproof jacket and house keys (value: £150)
  • One mobile phone with additional memory (value: £60 - for the memory; I was planning on getting a new mobile anyway) 
  • One Lothian regional bus card (value: £5)
  • Three single train journeys, 2 London-York and 1 York-Edinburgh (value: £120)
  • One book, Tools of the Mind (value: £20)
  • One bottle of hair oil (value: £3)
Sometimes I wonder why we bother.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I'm here, but where am I?

I type, friends, sitting in the kitchen of my own wee flat. It's very quiet as Boy is not back yet with the dogs. While I am pleased to be in my own wee kingdom-flat, the strangeness of the environment is accute. The countryside seen as I came up on the train, of gridded pastures dotted with sheep and hills, seemed confusing rather than charming after my last week in North Carolina. My head is burling and I'm glad I'm alone cos I don't like to see people when I'm like this.

Thing is, I don't know if North Carolina could really ever be my home again despite missing living in the US. I've made a life here in Edinburgh, but it is certainly not my home. I will always be a foreigner. Part of me thinks that if I find a place or a city like Edinburgh but in the US then maybe I'd move back. However, this is a rather simplistic thought.


Well, we are nearing the end of our trip. I'm currently on a train, hurling toward Edinburgh. I should be in round 2000 GMT but I wish it were now.

Boy and I had a bit of a recap in RDU yesterday, mulling over the highs and lows and what, if anything, had we learned. As we are now based between two train cars with our luggage rather than sitting in a seat within a car, what we have learned is to never fly in and out of London, particularly Heathrow. No, I did not get trapped in the evil Terminal 5 that you Americans keep hearing about as that terminal is for poshos (or at least richies) only. No, our tale is much more mundane and typical of average people like me and Boy. The tale of the forces of nature (fate?) colluding against our dreams: plane departs late, must circle over London for half an hour, miss our train back up to Edinburgh, drop my mobile, have to pay out the arse for another ticket to get home.

This was, for me, a good holiday. It involved eating (and drinking) and spending time with folk, things which I love to do the most. It was horrible cos Boy was sick most of the journey and cos he didn't get a chance to enjoy himself in a way he really likes. So this holiday was for me and he was pretty terrific about letting me have just about what I wanted -- including a "bon voyage" meal at IHOP which subsequently gave me the runs. (Ooooo, never again. Well, I say that now but I'm highly forgetful.)

I called this rambling little entry "Home" mostly because this trip brought up so many thoughts about what I consider home. This was my first trip back to the East Coast, to where I used to call home, Durham, North Carolina, in two years. Some things were great about being back -- time with friends, the familiarity of some favourite places/haunts (Whole Foods! Cosmic Cantina! The Cave!). But I found the aggressive and sprawling expansion there distasteful and wanton.

Of course there is expansion in Edinburgh and Durham (and its surrounding cities) are not the only American cities that are expanding rapidly (Las Vegas is crazy). But the expansion in Edinburgh is a bit different. We tend to build up and not so much out. I doubt many Edinburgh expats would be confused and lost in their city due to the high number of new roads but I certainly was when I went back to Durham and Raleigh.

I don't know. I have a lot to say but tiredness/jet lag is nipping at me. Will you all be patient with me? I come back and conclude my thoughts soon.