Category Archives: Living the Dream

On Solidarity

paris-300x300 On SolidarityThe world woke up this morning to devastating scenes from Paris. I watched them unfold last night with my heart in my mouth. The reports were garbled, bits and pieces of news coming in from Twitter users and the odd reporter who happened to be on the ground as the attacks took place. Stories were published, corrected, and amended in moments. Chaos reigned.

In between my searches for news updates, I ran across more than my fair share of hatred and vitriol. Twitter is a cesspool at the best of times, but the American right were out in force yesterday. France and America have long been staunch allies, and you’d think France would deserve better even in the midst of one of its darkest hours, but the political classes and the right-wing zealots obviously thought otherwise. Continue reading →

The FedEx Debacle

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FedEx invoice on the mystery package: value £8,976

One of the biggest dramas of moving to the U.S., after getting all my paperwork sorted, was what to do with my stuff. I narrowed it down over the months before the move (thank you, eBay!) but I still had rather a lot; yet not enough to make shipping it over cost- or time-effective. So I started looking into sending it by post. I managed to get about fifteen packages shipped over in twos and threes, but in order to send the bulk (and the more expensive items) I needed to have the right customs paperwork or I’d have to pay import duty on the lot.

I’d been using UPS* to send the other packets, but found their website unworkable and their help department nonexistent, which left me high and dry about the paperwork (part of which needs completing and signing by the courier, so I couldn’t exactly post it and hope for the best).

*Note to UPS, you lost a big order because your website ain’t up to snuff. Continue reading →

On Remembrance

256px-Blood_Swept_Lands_And_Seas_Of_Red_IMG_1744 On Remembrance

Blood Swept Lands And Seas Of Red at the Tower of London; the Weeping Window

Today is Veterans Day in America, where thanks are given to all servicemen past and present. In the UK, 11th November is Remembrance Day, where we commemorate the dead (Memorial Day in the U.S.).

The main ceremonies now take place on the Sunday nearest to the 11th, but for two minutes on the 11th itself, at 11am, the UK grinds to a halt. Phones are left ringing, radios crackle with empty static, children in playgrounds stand still and bow their heads. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month is the exact moment at which the First World War ended and the soldiers on both sides lay down their weapons. Continue reading →

On Working from Home

working-with-laptop-3-1545962-300x225 On Working from HomeI love my job. I’m prefacing with that because I don’t say it enough, but I am quite literally living the dream. I get to write books, see them published, and know people buy them — enough people that I can afford to do this full-time. Long may it last!

Before I quit my job — not because writing was making me a bazillionaire, but because I was so damn sick of the place I couldn’t think, they’d laid off everyone at my level except me and doubled the workload at the same time, and they refused me the only pay rise I’d requested in six years when I was already being paid considerably less than the going rate for my position — I wrote around work. That meant writing until three or even four in the morning, then getting up at seven to be in the office for eight. I did that for two years and at the end of it I was exhausted, and barely managing two novels a year. When I had my hissy fit and quit, a world of time opened up before me. Continue reading →

On American Nature

Screenshot-2017-06-26-21.25.51 On American NatureI’m a nature geek — I own it. I was raised by a father whose first response on seeing a new bird was to root out an old identification guide and learn everything about it. I’ve got everything David Attenborough ever filmed on DVD. I drive AJ batty by shrieking “Squirrel!” every time I see one while she’s driving.

American wildlife is so much more exciting than in the UK. At home, I was lucky to see the occasional hedgehog in the garden (not native to North America, sadly), and when a fox set up den nearby and let her cubs play in the driveway, I was in animal heaven. (I wasn’t so good at badger spotting, but that’s another story.) Here, though, there are opossums and raccoons and skunks and coyotes and maybe even a wolf or bear or moose if I go north and rural enough. Last summer, a groundhog in the garden kept me entertained for literally weeks. Continue reading →

On Living with a Cat

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Who dares disturb my slumber?

Peeps on Facebook will know this morning my plans to get some work done while AJ was still asleep were foiled by His Nibs, who decided to sit on the table next to me and — slowly and quite deliberately — push everything on it onto the floor, one item at a time.

I’ve not had a cat before. I like cats, but I’ve always lived in a dog house, and the dogs I’ve had haven’t liked cats at all. The closest I’ve come to them is visiting a friend who obviously wears that invisible marker that all cats know reads DOORMAT (his latest rocked up at his house as a stray, promptly found her way to his bedroom, and had kittens in his suitcase). Continue reading →

One-Week Anniversary

A week ago right to this minute, AJ and I were saying our vows 😀

download One-Week AnniversaryToday, we spent most of the morning in the social security office — talk about coming down to earth with a bump! — trying to get me the magic number that will allow me to open a bank account and get a driving license and generally function in society. We did go the day after I arrived in the country (with the visa I entered on, I’m entitled to an SSN immediately) but apparently the system is old and slow and they needed at least ten days for me to register in it, despite the fact my point of entry was in the same state. Which is… reassuring. Government bureaucracy is the same the world over. Continue reading →

Happy Halloween!

256px-Halloween_Jack-o%27-lantern Happy Halloween!So this is my first Halloween in America, where I know it’s a Big Deal.

In the UK, it isn’t so much. Every year my sister and I got a pumpkin each to decorate (she always went for the biggest she could find, I went for the smallest: read into that what you will), and I usually put one in the window when I worked for the construction company, making ours the only building on a drab little industrial estate that had any sense of festive occasion (I also decked it out for Christmas, and it was spectacular). But pumpkins aside, Halloween mostly passed me by during childhood. Continue reading →

What A Day

So, AJ Rose and I are officially Mrs & Mrs. Because I entered the US on a fiancee visa, we had a deadline by which time we had to get married, which meant less planning a big event and more rushing to the courthouse. The US government doesn’t do romance. 😉

My family and a couple of friends flew over from the UK and have been here all week. It’s been a non-stop round of shopping trips (cheese in a can needs to be seen to be believed) and visits to the zoo, crazy golf, and goodness knows where else. We’ve also eaten our own weight in chips fries.

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AJ and I got the license the week before, and not even the fact I’m on it as “Mr Aaron, Groom” could piss me off. We were married by a judge who was very nice, even if he did race through the ceremony at the speed of light. Another (same-sex!) wedding party got a bit overexcited and barged in during our wedding but they soon hurried back out again. And when we came out of the courtroom, one of the employees started applauding us (although she didn’t have much luck getting the people waiting for *actual* court to join in).

And then we were married 😀

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Seriously, the response on Facebook, Twitter, here on my blog, everywhere, was overwhelming for both of us. There wasn’t time to thank everyone personally (and I lost track of all the notifications after about ten minutes) but we read all the comments and just… thank you.

writing-with-pride-banner What A Day