Animal Lover

First, let me say that if you are an animal lover and find yourself living in the absence of any animals (I offer myself as an example here…), you might find yourself doing odd things, like calling dogs that aren’t there.  Or talking to the cat perched on your fence.  Or saying good morning to some birds.  Or hell, even saying “hi” to those foxes digging through your garbage cans (oh, excuse me, “rubbish bins”).

I have two great animal dreams in my life — one is to live on a farm and raise a fleet of dachshunds (at least 10) and watch them run through fields and laugh and laugh at the cuteness of it all.  The second great animal dream is to ride a horse.  Perhaps this dream is more practical than the former, as there are no shortage of people who love horses in this country.

I will say, animal lover that I am, I never really “got” goldfish.  Owning goldfish always seemed to me a bit like a science experiment for school children.  I will admit that as decorative objects they are lovely and  nice to gaze at when staring into space thoughtfully.  But they are living things, aren’t they? Set them free into the wild, I say.  Oh, but is there even such thing as “wild” goldfish these days? Or ever?



Business Opportunities for Entrepreneurs in London

Dear London Entrepreneurs,

Are you looking for the next big thing?  Here’s some hints — these went over BIG in the US, and shamefully they have NOT been leveraged to their full potential in England:

1. Donut Fail: Krispy Kreme has cornered the entire UK donut market. Which is great if you like your donut to send you immediately into hyperglycemic shock.  However,  I myself am  partial to the more cake-y texture of Dunkin’ Donuts, or better yet, how about one of those old-fashioned donuts perfected by this place in Ocean City, NJ or this place on Nantucket, hot and freshly rolled in sugar? Mmmmmm…

2. Burrito Fail: Despite the fact that certain trendy Mexican places have sprung up around the city (including our familiar MacDonald’s affiliate, Chipotle), these British burritos still fall far short for this American.  (To be fair, living in Austin pretty much spoiled me for Mexican and Tex-Mex.) Might I make a special request, London, that you find a way to import decent tortillas and corn chips that do not taste like cardboard? Many thanks.

3. Margarita Fail: In a vein similar to the above, why is this magnificent cocktail so overlooked in this “cultured” metropolis? Also: #whereareyoudarkandstormy? #whyaremartinisservedinsuchsmallglasseshere? #FILLITTOTHEBRIMplease!

4. Cheetos Fail: Given the deep adoration of “crisps” in this country, particularly when imbibing, I have no idea why these fluffy synthetic orange treats have not yet taken this nation by storm.

5. Gatorade Fail: Last week I ran the Royal Parks Half Marathon and they tried to give me something called Lucazade. Gross.

6. Chocolate Chip Fail: Chocolate chunks are present here.  Chips are not.  Why?

7. Graham Cracker Fail: I’m at a loss when I explain these delights to my British co-workers.  “Something in between a cracker and a cookie”.  There is no translation of this in Brit-speak.  They look at me in bewilderment. “Like a biscuit?” they say. No.

8. Fabric Softener Fail: As I have hinted in previous posts, clean and crusty clothing is a fact of life here.  They sell something called “fabric conditioner” which, as far as I can tell, softens clothes only psychosomatically.

9. Lara Bars: These magnificent fruit-date-and-nut bars were a godsend when I went totally Paleo for my 30 day challenge.  Luckily, my intense month of Paleo-eating coincided with a trip to the US so I could stock up on these wholesome sweet treats.  Whole Foods UK has not picked these up yet.

Coping and Schedule Sorting

As many of you know, my husband and I, newlyweds though we are, live apart for the school year.  He has just entered his final year of law school and he holds down the fort stateside with our two miniature dachshunds, Henry and Lucy.  I hold a place for him and my furry children here in London, where they will join me next summer.  G. was with me all through this exciting (and rainy!) British summer, but returned home to the US last month to complete his degree.

Over the past two years of living apart, we’ve learned how best to manage those horrible airport goodbyes (he drops me off at the curb — sounds brutal, but rather like removing a band-aid, it’s much better to have a quick, abbreviated farewell than having him walk me to the security line and allowing us time to stew and mope).  We’ve also learned that we feel best connected and more comfortable having frequent, short conversations every day rather than long marathon catch-ups on the weekends.

Although we’ve established a bit of routine around leaving and re-joining each other, I still have difficulty adjusting back to life on my own after time together.   I find that, just like a small child, I do best when I can schedule my time and create a sense of regularity in my day and my week.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to understand that the bedrock of my good mood include a daily run, three healthy meals, enough sleep and time to read my book.  I take great pleasure in all of these things and my mood utterly relies on them, but in the craziness of the daily commute, work and other social commitments, it’s amazing how such important things can get swept aside in favor of the passive, zombie-like activities of television watching and internet surfing.

Furthermore, I’ve come to think that the routines we create for ourselves, and the tasks we do every day says something of our priorities at a given stage in our lives, and perhaps even something of our character and values.  Gretchen Rubin over at the Happiness Project had a wonderful post about overcoming the entropy of laziness by committing to do the things that are most important to us every day rather than once in awhile, or a few times a week.  I love the Warhol quote she cites:

““Either once only, or every day. If you do something once it’s exciting, and if you do it every day it’s exciting. But if you do it, say, twice or just almost every day, it’s not good any more.” – Andy Warhol

I see some sense in this.  A rare treat is wonderful, and a daily constitutional saves us from becoming dilettantes floating from one behavior or trend to the next, adrift in a sea of unrealized potential.