Since Saturday

Saturday was one of the most fun days I’ve had in a while, I went up to Norwich for the first time ever, to meet up with another expat blogger. I would describe the entire experience for you, but Rachel has already done such a great job on her blog, so go have a read and enjoy the fab photos and hilarious video at the end. It was an epic day for me, sunshine, wandering around, an American voice, and I learned something important in our geeky “we have so much in common” technical discussion. So that was awesome. This crazy meet up with people you know from blogland thing is fun, especially when you already sort of know something about each other when the day begins. Looking forward to the next time I get to do expat blogger things, probably in May with a foursome meet-up of relatively local bloggers who I now know (!) and only waiting until then since I’m traveling insanely in the meantime. Yes, here we go with the establishment of an expat blogger club in England… join in if you’re around the East of England!

Monday was huge for me, as my passport came back along with my Chinese visitor’s visa. So I’m set to go at the start of next month. And it’s starting to seem real, and I’m starting to get pretty excited. Last year’s big adventure was Australia, this year it’s China. New country to experience, new landscapes to photograph. And I get to do it all while hanging out with my sister in her last few months of living as an expat in China (for now…) so all good. Pictures will appear, watch this space in April.

Monday night I got myself potentially into just a little bit of trouble. Black tie dinner. You know, these things are commonplace on a Monday night, right? (See how long I’ve been living here… I was at work until 5:30 for a 6 pm start with a change of clothes clearly needed…) Mostly enjoyable. Was seated (almost said “was sat” which would mean I had turned a corner into British strange grammar….) next to a Brit who had spent a year in the US recently, and it was fascinating. I maintain completely that the view of Brits here who have lived abroad is totally different from the view of those who have not. And it does not have to be abroad in America. Anywhere seems to work as long as it’s for long enough and people sufficiently get into the overseas culture. But I digress. It was the point in the meal (after it, really) when people stand up and raise a toast to the Queen. And I stand up politely, may or may not pick up my glass, but definitely do not utter the words “To The Queen!” and do not drink. And I catch the eye (accidentally) during this little ritual of a local who I sort of feel does not take too kindly to my status here as an invader. Oops. We’ll see if that comes back to bite me. But seriously, other Americans–we overthrew the monarchy of this particular country in a revolutionary war that defines us, would you toast it at an event out of social pressure? And I live here and love it here but does that have to mean that I also love the monarchy and all it stands for?

Today was a long and busy day, and I’m struck by the fact that I’m less than 100 hours from leaving the country on a speaking tour of the US before China, so I really should be more organized. My busiest work time of the year is January to mid-March, and so I’m taking off right at the point at which a sensible person would be spending about three days sorting out my messy flat and back-logged laundry and another three dealing with the piles of paperwork in my office. But no, I’m off to the US to lecture and visit interesting places that I’ve never been before, like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. (I lived on the Lower Peninsula of Michigan for five years but it was in the era when I did not just hop in a car or on a plane and venture out for adventures… totally different times.) I’m about to equal my record for as far north in North America as I have ever been, so that should be fun. But the paperwork piles in my office, and laundry piles in my flat, mean that I should not be travelling. I can only hope that after this epic month of US-home for 2 days-China I will be able to recover and reorganize. But, (she says, trying to justify her actions) you have to live life while you have the chance, and surely taking these opportunities is living life to the fullest? (Or the most insane, take your pick.) Regardless, I shall be off soon and reporting from foreign lands and sending back messages except perhaps from China where the “Great Firewall” impedes communications to the point that I may not be able to reach this blog from afar. Interesting times.

10 responses to “Since Saturday

  1. The toast to the Queen – a bit like me not putting my hand on my heart when they sing the Star Spangled Banner at the start of every Cubs game! (I do stand tho’.)

  2. The tidying and organizing will still be there for you to do when you get back! It’s way more important to travel because you can!
    I’m just jealous (tho I do at least get to use my passport this year!)

  3. Every time I stand and squirm during the Pledge of Allegiance, I shall think of you refusing to raise your glass to The Queen! We’ll balance one another out.

    So glad to hear you had a good day with Rachel, I do enjoy her blog and her views of British life.

  4. Have a great time traveling. I hope your speaking engagements go down a storm.

    Let me know about the get together in May, would love to come up to your neck of the woods and meet you.


  5. I can’t say I have ever toasted the Queen – that must have been a “posh do”.

    I hated my children having to pledge allegiance in the USA but they did out of respect to our host country. I never sang the Star Spangled Banner though – I think the timing (Iraq War, Bush presidency) made me feel particularly opposed to joining in, but that’s just me … My American friends knew I still loved and respected the people of the USA, just not those in charge!!

  6. Busy little bee aren’t you?? 🙂

    As for the Loyal Toast, I probably would but only because I have lived here 20 years and it seem churlish for me not to. I would find it difficult to imagine why a Briton would be offended that you don’t–would he/she toast to the President of the United States if he/she were at a formal dinner there? hmmm….

    Looking forward to May meet-up. I shall blog about it soon (to spread the word).

  7. Hello NFAH! I laughed at the formal toast to the Queen. I haven’t experienced that, yet. I must imagine, though, it would be how English people feel at a US baseball game when we sing the National anthem. (Really, none of us remember all the words…we just mumble along! I promise!)

    Congrats on the visa coming back!

    I’m looking forward to May!

  8. I’m so jealous! You’re going to China! You’re really going! This is awesome. I hope you have an amazing time.

    About the toast to the Queen, I would totally do it out of respect but also because of what monarchy represents to me. It’s about tradition, distinction, a link to the past. The monarchy that the colonists overthrew is simply not the monarchy that exists in England now (and the reasons for exactly why it was overthrown are debatable, of course). As a symbol, I have no problem swearing loyalty to a monarch and I had to when my Spanish citizenship was officially recognised.

    About crazy British grammar, what is up with that? I don’t mean to be offensive and I certainly hope no one is actually offended, but sometimes it just sounds insane! I have flirted with pluralising singular nouns (“my family are” and whatnot) but I could never say something like “Stood there, you look silly.” Where did this sort of thing originate? Any one know?

  9. Ha, I understand the toasting the Queen bit, love it! I refuse to participate in the pledge or the national anthem before sporting events…I’m not a huge sporting event fan and so I always have a book, and I just plop down in my seat and read it, ignoring the nasty looks from those around me. I just don’t like the whole “show of loyalty” bits. I’m not a fan of patriotism often ’cause it leads to being closed-minded and mindless, and so getting caught up in a mob mentality with a patriotic ritual is not my thing.

    I do a similar thing with not making the sign of the cross or joining in prayer with my inlaws. I stand and am respectful. But I’m not joining in.

    Anyway, here via Dear So and So…, love it!

  10. I think you could join in toasting the Queen without implying a lack of patriotism to the US – it’s just a toast, not a loyalty oath.

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