Category Archives: dear so-and-so

Dear so-and-so, Rant-y English edition

I’m behind in voicing my rants against the locals…. I love my life in England but I must say there are a few things that make me want to scream…

Dear person in my flat building or visiting my flat building,

That thing where you insist on obstructing access to my front door, by parking with two wheels on the pavement/sidewalk directly in front of my building when there are plenty of spaces available in the actual building car park, is getting rather old. I would do something radical but as a person about to apply for residency in the UK I cannot afford to “key” your car or the like. Which is too bad, because it’s what you deserve.

You drive a Ford Zetec, it’s not actually a fancy car, NFAH

Dear work person visiting my turf who happens to be a “Sir”:

Congratulations to you for having been knighted. That must be nice. But hi-jacking my meeting with your own agenda, and sending me (the only woman in the room and the person who was supposed to be running the meeting) out to make photocopies for you just really sucked rocks and did not actually help the meeting to accomplish anything.

Yours, NFAH

Dear local buses on my number x route,

You advertise quite clearly that you operate “Every ten minutes into the City Centre” so I thought you actually meant that. When I waited at the bus-stop for 30 minutes this morning, I was confused. When the bus number xy that eventually did stop at my stop was a different number and decided to pick us all up at a stop that was not on your route I was confused. When you stopped at all of the normal route x bus stops it became clear that it had adapted the route of the never-was-going-to-come bus. This was confusing.

This is why public transport in England has a bad reputation, NFAH

Dear England,

the daffodils are blooming. The world is ready for spring. Normally in my last few years here you were very nice in April. Why are you persisting with this below freezing thing so late in March?

Would really like to turn the heat off now, NFAH

Dear So-and-so, it’s been a while

I’ve been missing out on all the ranty fun but I’m back!!!

Dear Tesco,

Your signs are wrong. You do not need to see “ID” to buy alcohol, you need to see proof of age. The fact that such proof is often on a document that identifies a person is irrelevant, you don’t care what my name is but only when I was born.

Yes I know I’m being picky but still, NFAH

Dear Tesco,

Further to that last message, in your parking lot there is a strange aberration. When the pedestrian/bike path has to cross the vehicular traffic lane, the markings switch from pedestrians-left-bikes-right to pedestrians-right-bikes-left. Crossing over the pedestrians and bikes at a busy store and in the middle of the car lanes seems like a bad idea to me, but whatever.

I still shop there, NFAH

Dear Previous Occupants of my Current Flat,

When I moved in, the landlady gave me two names and forwarding addresses for previous occupants. I was rather confused, as I couldn’t understand why I would have to redirect your mail/post. I came to find out that in the UK, the Royal Mail does not forward your mail for free the way the USPS does, and you have to pay a nominal fee (roughly £40 for a year) for forwarding service. That was interesting in itself. The UK post rules appear even more interesting, in that one is (apparently, I am no lawyer) not allowed to just chuck post for previous occupants in the mail but must forward it or return it to sender. I hadn’t chucked it away but piling it in a corner to deal with later when I got an email forwarded from my landlady several months into my living here, from a previous tenant asking about why some post had not been forwarded. I ended up getting my secretary to help me with making return to sender labels because I was receiving vast amounts of post that was seemingly important, like things from the NHS with “confidential” stamps on it, and I did not want to get into trouble from not having forwarded it. But it has also become clear that there were far more than 2 (more like 5) people living here or receiving post at this address and I only had names and addresses for two.

Fascinated by the vagaries of UK snail-mail laws when surely most important communication is done electronically these days, NFAH

Dear sister,

I can’t wait for you to arrive and for us to have our fun little annual trip together. Will we be able to find Korean food in Spain? And will we be able to find a good weekend brunch with great bloody marys?

Love, NFAH

Dear So-and-So, About to be a weary traveller edition

Dear person who was pounding on my door this morning and kept trying to enter my flat with the master key even though the chain lock was clearly engaged,

Seriously. You did that to deliver a cardboard recycling bin. You so could have left the $%£*^& thing outside the door.

Needing my beauty sleep, NFAH

Dear UK tax authorities,

This thing where you randomly assigned the start of the year to start some time mid-April is remarkably inconvenient for expats from sensible countries where the year starts on 1 Jan. And of course, I should not expect that there is anything so modern as an online system for me to sort through my pay stubs for the past year, it’s paper and my calculator all the way.

Tax time is the most annoying and time-consuming time of year, NFAH

Dear Car Service,

I promise I will not sleep through my alarm tomorrow, and thus not waste your driver’s time and efforts like I did on the aborted first attempt at the Germany trip two weeks ago. And fortunately for me you’re picking me up tomorrow at 10:30, not 6 am!

Gettting giddy to get to America, even though it’s work all the way and followed by the China adventure with no time to deal with jet lag, NFAH

Dear So-and-So, Stuttgart Airport Edition

Dear Stuttgart Airport PA system,

Could you please stop reinforcing my view of Germany as a place where 80s music still rules?

“Wouldn’t it be good to be in your shoes, even if it was for just one day” (especially because then I could change the radio station), NFAH

Dear Small town German gas station lady,

Thank you so much for just opening the bathroom door with a key when I could not understand your German instructions for using the coin operated toilet system. And sorry about the totally not understanding German thing.

Monolingual (mostly), NFAH

Dear Miss Bossy Pants (Sat Nav System in German Rental Car),

I really missed your voice as I was driving back to the car rental place today. Your live route maps were still delightful, but I don’t know how I managed to disable the voice instructions and I could not figure out how to get them back. But that thing where you took me on a wild goose chase trying to get back onto the motorway after I stopped for petrol, that was not cool. I did not know your program would allow you to direct me to a place where there WAS NO ROAD–had I blindly followed your directions I would have ended up in a creek.

Still loving how easy it was to navigate western Germany thanks to Miss Bossy Pants, talking or no talking,

Dear Extremely senior colleague,

Thank you so much for sending your employee to pluck me out of the symposium, away from the sandwich lunch, and taking me to lunch today. I’m not exactly sure what you, the head of the institute, was doing making small talk about your town with lowly me over lunch (I had thought maybe there was some business to transact, but none came up) but I did enjoy the conversation. And I hope you realize that my not eating all of my food was not a personal affront, German vegetarian cuisine is a bit random and this was no exception.

Honored, NFAH

Dear eating place in random German town,

Seriously, the vegetarian lunch of the day was elbow noodles with dry spinach and chopped up hard boiled eggs? No sauce, no flavor, nothing?

I mostly starve in Germany (except the bread/pretzels), NFAH

Dear young colleagues,

I adore the fact that you put in lots of effort when I ask you to make me a few powerpoint slides for a presentation I have to give. But there is a new rule from now on: no fancy sh*t. No animations, no flying things, nothing appearing after a sequence of clicks. Nothing that requires any interaction except a movie and provide that as a separate file for me to test myself.

Flustered after having to improvise when two slides in my presentation just didn’t show up during the live slideshow (and yes they are still there in the slide sorter when I’m not in slideshow mode–they just won’t display in full screen mode), NFAH

Dear World,

That does it, officially I’m exhausted. After taking the Eurostar to Paris a week ago this morning, back late Sunday night, missing my flight Wed. morning, recovering and flying to Germany Wed. afternoon, driving through the “Naturpark” twice and now sitting in the Stuttgart airport waiting to fly back to London, I am officially done traveling. For. Um. 15 days. At which point I fly to the eastern coast of the US, connect to the UP in Michigan, work, return to the east coast, work, fly back to the UK, attend a conference for two days, speak at said conference jet-lagged, turn around and get on a plane for China less than 60 hours after landing back from the US, travel all around China for 12 days, come back, be at home for about a week before I leave for a workshop in Switzerland for two days…. SH*T. I’ve don’t it again, haven’t I. Let’s just see how tired I can get by the middle of April when all of this is over… I hope no one had anything urgent they wanted me to do between now and the last part of April, because I’m just not seeing it…

CLEARLY I never learn, NFAH

Dear So-and-So, Frantic Friday Edition

Dear World of Work,

You do realize that if you set all of the deadlines for the same week, even if everything does miraculously get done it will not get done well or with the care it normally would have been given, right? And oh yes you can take your Friday close-of-business deadlines and put them somewhere that the sun doesn’t shine, I am not going to bust my gut to give you something that will sit on your desk in an empty office over the weekend. You’ll have it all by Monday morning. And yes I am writing dear so-and-so letters instead of finishing another incremental paper shuffle and I’m aware that I’m doing it.

Never one for arbitrary-ness, especially in paperwork, NFAH

Dear Subconscious,

May I express my displeasure at your having invented a new recurring anxiety dream this week? I already had the whole ‘airport going to miss my plane’ thing and the whole ‘flying-heights-falling’ thing but now the ‘show up to give a lecture/performance/recital unprepared’ thing too? I really did not need this (although interesting how clearly it reflects the current state of things…)

Needs less dreams, more sleep, NFAH

Dear British Schools,

As usual, I find there to be something deeply interesting about the way you react to things–in this case, banning Valentine’s cards to avoid students having hard feelings. As several bloggers in America have noted recently (this from CalifLorna being but an example) the American reaction is to encourage the students to give something to everyone in the class, not to ban the holiday altogether. I think I prefer the inclusive latter solution, although it wouldn’t make for as exciting a headline.

Hearts and cards and chocolates for all, NFAH

Dear Microsoft,

You won this round, I had to break down and buy Office for my laptop after a series of misadventures with Open Office, involving the dropping of greek letters and the refusal to properly pdf anything that had the characters “fi” next to each other in a Times New Roman font. The nice manager in the Apple store disappointedly knew nothing about how to use equations in iWork Pages and playing around made it look like a no-go at least in terms of a short learning curve.

Someday I’ll be able to quit you, but unfortunately so far that day has not arrived, NFAH

Dear Grandma,

It was so good to talk to you this week and to be able to wish you a Happy 93rd birthday! And I’m sure you’ll forgive me for not confessing that I very nearly forgot, and was saved by someone at work making an offhand comment about elderly parents which then got me saying I have a ninety–whoa Grandmother whose birthday is today eek better remember to call her! And no matter how much you try to tell me that you’re not the adventurous type and don’t know how I can live abroad, I will continue to refuse to believe you on the grounds of that whole fantastic 1939 World’s Fair adventure plus that whole bus to the west coast adventure–your 20s were pretty adventurous even by modern standards.

All my love from England, NFAH

Dear Bloggy Friends,

If I’m quiet for a few days, both here and on your blogs, understand it’s because my sister will be here and real people trump people in the computer.

I’ll be back, NFAH

Dear So-and-So, overdue edition

Dear So-and-So is a Friday thing, but I had a busy week. And I’ve been saving up the rants and things all week long, so here goes.

Dear British Newspapers,

Confirmed. You lie!

Still can never remember which ones are associated with which political faction, NFAH

Dear Charlie Brooker and Other Outraged British Citizens Upset over the Kraft-Cadbury Thing:

I do hope you realize how ridiculous you sound. The world is NOT actually ending. And oh yes, did you ever buy a bar of your precious Cadbury chocolate in the US? Lookie here:

But I’m sure you knew that. In fact, I’m sure you walked around America talking about how inferior this Cadbury’s chocolate was to the “real” stuff back home.

And Charlie Brooker, if you can stop ranting long enough to try something, have one of the extremely popular jalapeno crisps/chips that are currently the craze in America.

Tired of the whole “the sky is falling” thing, NFAH

Dear Tesco,

I thought it was a joke when I heard about the whole “pyjama ban” thing. I thought it was one of those over the top British things associated with the “social dis-ease” and avoidance of the possibility of embarrassing others, especially when I saw the quote of the supposed sign.

“To avoid causing offence or embarrassment to others, we ask that our customers are appropriately dressed when visiting our store (footwear must be worn at all times and no nightwear is permitted).”

But when I found out you tried to block the entry of a D-list celebrity into the store because she was wearing a posh tracksuit, I realized that no matter how ridiculous this seemed, you were serious. Seeing as I do occasionally run out in my lounge-wear on the weekend, I’m feeling ever so grateful that my local shop is a Sainsbury’s.

Hoping my local shop doesn’t decide to follow in your footsteps,

Dear Person Suing Simon Cowell Because You Were Rejected from Britain’s Got Talent,

Thanks for making it clear that the Brits have passed the Americans completely when it comes to frivolous lawsuits.

Hoping this person’s 15 minutes are about up, NFAH

Dear Two People Who Came Back Into My Life This Week After Years-Long Absences,

It’s wonderful to have you back.

In awe of the magic of the internet, NFAH

Dear So-and-So, My American Friends edition

Dear My American Friends,

I never intended to move abroad and become very good friends with a bunch of American expats, but that’s what happened. And right now, after over three years of living in England and being a bit lonely at times, I am very happy. Tonight was Korean food with one very good friend in my town, and tomorrow I get an expat blog/twitter meet-up with @Michelloui and @3bedroom (both of whom I’ve seen in person before) and I couldn’t be more excited. Another American friend is out of town for the weekend but I plan to see her again soon. @crustacean77, you’re next.

Loving the friendships not to mention the convergence of online and real life worlds, NFAH

Dear World,

We celebrate Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, so why not Birthday Eve? I intend to start this observance tomorrow, with My American Friends. That’s right, NFAH will be adding another notch to the belt on Saturday. This will be my 4th birthday celebration in England, and the first time since I moved here that I’ve felt like I really had something to celebrate.

Excitedly yours, NFAH

Dear fans of the academic discipline of American Studies,

I seem to have accidentally offended you with my tongue-in-cheek words last week. No offense was intended, and I am deeply sorry. I have consulted with many locals, both expat and otherwise, and we were all previously unaware of the existence of as many American Studies departments in Europe as apparently there are. The wikipedia page is very informative in this regard. I just thought the mental image of an American studies professor sitting in an office in England earnestly answering questions about GLEE for the BBC was very funny. No offense was intended.

My deepest apologies, NFAH

Dear Apple,

Sorry to say that I was right, but your tablet does nothing for me. And the name, oh the name.

Sticking with my iPhone, MacBook, iMac, Linux Netbook and Kindle, NFAH

Dear So-and-so, January doldrums edition

Dear BBC,

Thank you for giving me a much needed laugh with your very straight and serious piece about the TV show Glee (I watched all 13 existing episodes while in America recently). Best excerpts from the BBC piece:

“They are uniquely American,” says Peter Ling, professor of American Studies at Nottingham University.

Can I have that job? I think I’m (over) qualified. Surely giving quotes to the BBC about what makes something “American” is easier than what I actually do all day. And I’m guessing he gets paid quite a pretty sum for that job since “professor” here means something more exalted than it means in America.

The irony is that glee actually began in Britain, around the 1700s, according to historians.

Ah, the requisite “claim the original idea” line. Never like the Brits to allow any American success story to take place without trying to grab credit.

One factor that could explain why this touchstone of American culture is all but unheard of in Britain is America’s focus on competition. Glee isn’t just about the joy of singing – many show choirs compete at national level.

Right. Britain’s obsession with league tables for anything and everything and the fact that you can bet on anything and everything at one of several bookmaker shops along the high street are clear indications that Britain has no interest in competition.

I love Puck.

Glee-ful, NFAH

Dear book publisher,

I swear, absolutely swear, that I will get that editorial work done this weekend. I have no idea why it is taking so long. Well, actually that’s not true, it’s tedious as hell and I’m ornery about doing it and really tired of looking at these same 350 pages for over two years of various versions. But regardless, expect things on your desk Monday morning.

Being an editor is totally unglamorous, NFAH

Dear self,

When, oh when, are you going to learn to stop saying you’ll do things that you know are a good idea but you don’t actually want to do, such that you get to the time and date and have to cancel at the last minute because you’re completely out of bandwidth to do things that are a good idea because of the many thousands of other things you actually have to do?

Get a grip. Learn a lesson. And start saying NO more often.

I keep trying to tell you this and you’re not listening, NFAH

Dear Barclaycard,

I am completely speechless at the fact that you have just upgraded me to a platinum credit card all of two years after I had to fight so hard to get any credit card at all. WTF?

British banking is a puzzle, NFAH

Dear Apple,

It’s amazing that you are generating so much buzz with this whole “will they or won’t they” tablet thing. But I have to admit, I’m a devoted Mac-head with desktops and laptops both at home and at work plus an iPhone and two iPods and actually I have no idea what a person would do with a “Tablet” so I have no interest. Sorry.

And oh yes I love my (shockingly non-Mac) Kindle, NFAH

Dear So-and-so, I love America edition

Dear America,

I love you. You make it hard for me to leave, with all your Target stores and your amazingly cheap restaurant food and your wide roads and modern conveniences everywhere.

Having the usual 24-hours-until-I-go crying jag, NFAH

Dear American colleagues,

It was great seeing you at both the conference and workshop I attended in America in the last month. Listening to you describe what our sort of job entails in America right now reminds me why I leave Target and cheap food and wide roads and modern conveniences behind to return to work in England.

Thinking my world would be much simpler if this was not the case, NFAH

Dear British Airways and British Weather,

Could you please cooperate tomorrow so I can get back to do the things I need to do this week? As much as I normally would not mind being stranded in the US for a few extra days, this most definitely is not the week for it.

Yours in hopeful anticipation, NFAH

Dear So-and-so, Christmas edition

Dear blog and other internet/computer friends,

Sorry I’ve been largely away from the internet for the last 10 days or so. Sometimes life is like that, and I actually get the chance to hang out with live humans. I was at a conference that was like a family reunion, and admittedly in that case the people in computer suffer from a lack of my attentions. Being sick while away also did not help, as sleeping to try and recover decreased what little free time I had. But don’t worry, I’m back!

I still love you all, NFAH

Dear Americans in Florida,

Wow, I truly had no idea morbid obesity was so popular. Most of the time when I’m in America I only ever see normal-sized people who can shop in typical mall stores. Now I see where a random visitor from Europe might get a strange idea of what Americans look like.

Feeling skinny after that experience, NFAH

Dear Howard,

I saw lots of American tourists in Florida. None of them were dressed the way you said in your previous comment. There were two clear themes though, especially for the females: enormous and unflattering mom jeans, and velour track suits. Neither a particularly good look.

Fashionably yours, NFAH

Dear “I’ll be Home for Christmas” people,

This–current travel chaos in the East, West and most of Europe with the Midwest about to go down–is why I think travel for “fun” at Christmas is not so fun. There’s the Norman Rockwell dreams and the stranded in airport reality. And for me, the reality is just a little too real.

Practically yours, NFAH

Dear readers,

Happiest of holidays to you and yours, wherever you are. I plan on cooking up a storm and perhaps sharing any cooking adventures, and I’ll look forward to reading about all of your holiday exploits as well.

Peace and joy, NFAH