This year I would like to thank all of those delightful people who still insist on judging me for being a full-time mother. I'm having a difficult time lately, so thank you, granny at a birthday party, for insinuating that I'm a bad mother because I go to work. You probably have no idea how critical your statement, "I assume P is in nursery part-time?" sounded, or perhaps you do and think working mothers are all there for judgmental cows like yourself to patronise. When I confirmed that in fact I do imprison my child 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, you clucked and turned back to attending someone else's child. This other child is no doubt looked after a doting and attentive mother all day, every day, rather than sucked into the bosom of the uncaring nursery foster mothers like my poor child.

I would also like to thank you, anonymous grandmother, for twisting the spike ever deeper into my chest by remarking how very tiny my malnourished, unloved child is. "She's soooo much tinier than all of the others!", you say, a weak smile on my lips as I hear this sentiment, again, for the thousandth time in my daughter's brief life. I suppose you, too, would be small if you were chained to a crib slat all day with only a festering bottle of formula as your sole source of nourishment. My poor, poor, baby. Starving for attention as well as food.

Because parenting is the gift that keeps on giving, today as yet another nosy bitch passive aggressively passed judgment on my decision to put P in nursery. Ironically, it was the head of the programme. I was explaining that P would be picked up early by The Dude, which clearly delighted this champion of toddler rights, who smiled and said, "That will be nice! It will be good for her to leave early for once!" So to you, yes, I get it. Despite me contributing to your paycheck, it is still apparently your place to advise me as to the best way to raise my daughter. Perhaps I should pay even more fees, a consultancy fee, if you will.

Comments like these annoy me on so many levels, but I'm far too tired and lazy to get into those at the moment. In brief, I am frustrated that it is perceived that I need to explain my decision as to why I work full-time to a random stranger, or anyone for that matter. The basic point is that I like to work. I like to work full-time. My daughter, though currently experiencing periods of complete and utter two year old-related madness, is nurtured and adored by both of her parents. I can't imagine being any closer to her than I am, and defy anyone to prove that our relationship would be better if I worked less.

Thank you ladies. My child may be in the care of people other than her parents for the bulk of the work week, but I am raising her to be fair-minded and respectful of others' decisions and points of view. I'm sorry for you that no amount of staying at home will make your children or grandchildren more likely to be the kind of person that I am helping to shape my daughter to become. Thank you for making me realise that I am a better mother than I sometimes think myself to be.

Ahem. Deep breath. Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate! Below are my favourite Thanksgiving-related cards from my beloved someecards.com. Laugh until stuffing comes out of your nose.


Blame Canada

In a period of my life otherwise blighted by less than fantastic days, there has been some good news. After 21 months, we have been given the green light by Canada (yes, all of Canada have approved this) to submit our documents in order to gain residency.

For the uninitiated, Canada has a points-based immigration system. The first step is ascertaining on your own if you have enough points to potentially gain entry. If you do, there is a three page application form to complete, but no other documentation to submit at that time. We were told that that process would take about four years to complete. Our initial impression was that it was horribly long to wait, so now that this letter came through last week in half the time it has thrown us into organisational disarray.

Four years was daunting, but it at least would give us the opportunity to save some money (at least while the pound is still worth something). Our documents - financial, criminal clearance, proof of education and professional experience, etc - are due early in February. It's possible that if we are approved we could be moving in less than a year and I am bloody terrified.

This is the part where it gets a bit embarrassing. I've not spent any more than 3 days in Canada. I once crossed the border from Maine into New Brunswick when I was 12 courtesy of a family road trip. We stayed in a ratty motel in America's Hat, I swam in a frigid pool, and recall an abundance of Twin Peaks-style pine trees. About 7 years ago The Dude and I drove from Philly to Toronto and spent two nights in the city. We loved the drive up there, and enjoyed our time in Toronto considerably. Thus endeth my Canadian Experience.

One may wonder why we want to move 4000 miles away, again, to a country in which we've spent a collection of fleeting moments. Perhaps one has already been driven comatose by this appallingly boring post, in which case, it's doubtless you give a shit whether I choose to live in England, the US, Canada, or Lesotho. Regardless, I shall given you my reasons.

The Dude is British, I am American. It is far too expensive for us to have the lives we want in the UK. We both are educated, have good jobs, and work very hard. The Dude had the good fortune to be left a flat by his nan when she died, so we are even higher up on the property ladder than a lot of people in their early 30s (The Dude is actually in the twilight years of his 30s). Despite this, we will still never be able to afford anything more than a tiny, three bedroom terraced house with a patch of grass masquerading as a garden. Yes, yes, someone will surely point out that in certain areas you can afford more. I lived in a shady part of this city when we first moved here, and I won't compromise that again. A series of broken windows, 8 year olds telling adults to "fuck off", and a dead pigeon thrown on the doormat of my interior door in my block of flats was enough to ruin it for me. Go figure.

In Canada, we can afford a lovely big house with plenty of land for P to explore. I want her to have a childhood like mine - building tree houses, wading in creeks, and collecting bugs. That sort of life cannot be lived by us here. It can be in the States, but even with the promise of a new government it's still too much of a clusterfuck for us to make that gamble. I can't imagine going from nationalised healthcare here, to paying absurd amounts for shoddy coverage in the States.

I think a lot of people will judge us for jumping in blindly, but I'm confident it will all work out. I've spent nearly 7 years living in a different culture, and I'd be lying if I were to pretend that I'm not looking forward to returning to certain aspects of North American living.

Since I am ever-so-slightly clueless, I want to know your opinions on Canada. Our preference is Ontario, as it is close enough to my family without being too close, and since we liked our brief drive through it, it seems the logical place to land. We want to be near a city, Toronto, Ottawa, whatever. We're not keen on extreme rural living, but conversely suburban subdivision hell makes me want to gauge out my eyes with slivers of a rusted tin can. That is to say, I'm not a fan of such places.

Lest you think I'm a complete ignorant asshole, I know all about Canadian real estate thanks to my many years of internet research. My Canadian geography isn't too bad either as a result. Also, yes, I understand that knowing about Canadian houses isn't usually enough to build a life around. I feel I should mention that before some wisenheimer boldly points it out in the comment section.

So Canada...what's it all aboot, eh?


Music Monday: Later with Jools Holland

I've covered music on Jools Holland before, but as it's a weekly show with each series lasting about 5 or 6 shows, it's time to do it again! I dearly love Jools' programme, and ensure I watch it each and every week. An evening of Jools Holland for me revolves around frantic googling of acts, and manic writing on my brother's Facebook wall about them. You have no idea how excited I was to do this MM. Pru, thy name is dork.

Some of the performances are straight from Jools, whereas I had to rely on the bounty of YouTube for some others. Here are some of my favourites from this most recent series.

Eli 'Paperboy' Reed and the True Loves: This Dude is 24, has the most soulful voice you've heard in awhile, and looks straight out of Peggy Sue Got Married.

Take My Love With You

It's Easier


Carolina Chocolate Drops: Amazing, innovative, and again, you won't see anything like this anytime soon.

Hit 'Em Up Style (yes, that Hit 'Em Up Style)

Cornbread and Butterbeans


Little Boots



Hayes Carll: Yet another American (Texas) artist I'd not heard of until the oh-so-British Later with Jools Holland. XPN listeners (TASH), you'll hear Hayes Carll every once in awhile on their playlist.



Eliza Carthy

Two Tears

Like I Care (Wings)


Imelda May

Falling in Love with You Again

Johnny Got a Boom Boom


Camille O'Sullivan

In These Shoes (not as good as the Kirsty MacColl version, but entertaining nonetheless)


Katy Perry - shut up. She's actually not a bad singer, ok? Also, I like her dress.

Waking Up in Vegas



Soon We'll Be Found


And finally, Kings of Leon. Yes, you all know who they are, but I love them and that's that.

Sex on Fire

Here's the playlist, but of course you can't find these songs just anywhere, so I've not been able to find all of the songs referenced above. Sorry.


I think I'm alone now

Last Sunday I had the misfortune of attending an informal dinner party with the women from my antenatal group. I wasn't looking forward to it, but there was a promise of good curry and unfettered conversations about toddlers. It's hard to believe, but I'm up for any extended talk of children, particularly my own. My colleagues have to suffer through my occasional forays into, "Guess what P did today!" territory, so to be in a circle of women whose children I've known since birth for a few hours didn't seem like it would be too painful. Oh, to have a modicum of foresight...

There were 5 other women there, most of whom I like, but on a purely superficial basis. I was good friends with one of the women until I went back to work, but the chasm between my new full-time working life and her (very) part-time working life was apparently too vast. We made very awkward, first date kind of conversation Sunday night. She pretended to notice my weight loss - "You've lost your belly, and you can tell in your bum too!" - which is a complete load of bollocks considering I have a flat ass, not a fat one. I gain weight in my face, stomach, thighs, boobs, pretty much everywhere but my ass. It was all so forced, so trite, something to be said by the mother you pass as you're both dropping your kids off at school, not the woman who helped you through the roughest periods of early parenthood.

The night was miserable not just from the perspective of this lost friendship, but it made me realise why I have so few friends here. It has nothing to do with any great international divide; I'm just not made for idle middle class chit chat. I was sitting at the head of the table, silently soaking in all of the irrelevance - talk of curtains, stain removal, Asian cookery classes. None of that is me. I don't imagine it will ever be.

I want another tattoo (I only have one - not particularly bad ass, I know), I swear sometimes, I listen to loud, obnoxious music, I watch TV, I like to go to movies, I read, I write nonsense here, I lean pretty far to the left, I like to read, I like to talk about art and social issues. My free time is far too precious to me to spend it talking about curtain mold. That shit is BORING. When we get together I feel like they are the adults discussing proper grown-up issues, and I'm the bored teenager slumped in my chair, twisting my gum with my fingers and rolling my eyes skyward at each reference to an issue of suburban drudgery.

I seem to think that bloggers, at least the ones I read, are these wonderful, mythical beasts who somehow manage to avoid turning into suburban parenting bores. I think of them when I'm spending an evening with listless dullards making polite conversation for hours on end, wishing I was in their company talking of interesting things, ie, not mold spores.

So do us fascinating, multi-faceted women exist outside of blogging? If we do, where are we hiding? I live in one of the most densely populated cities in this country, yet the cool women are noticeably absent. Am I too picky? Perhaps I am, and I should instead focus on assembling a cadre of only mildly-boring folk. I think there might be a lot of that ilk to chose from.

I once thought that a place like that big blogging conference whose name I shall not mention lest I betray some kind of anti-slagging-off clause in my advertising contract would be a near-orgasmic experience, dripping in delightful bloggers. I would fall in love, and want to live in an all BlogHer (there, I said it) Xanadu. However, it now just seems to me to be a place where some go to be fawned over, and for others it's a place to fawn. All that ass-kissing, all the high school drama, it just makes me itch and get all stabby. The blogging world is perhaps less boring in parts, but I'm not keen on the politics either.

Based on last week's experience, I have been inspired to sequester myself in our flat until the cool people come and wrench me out. Be forewarned, I'm out the first time someone talks about the best way to get wax crayon residue off the radiator.


Pimp spot: New post on StK. Go forth and comment.


Music Monday on Tuesday: Johnny Cash (again)

P has recently discovered the joys of Cash. We dance to his music courtesy of YouTube, and hence all music we hear when out and about is designated as Johnny Cash. Muzak in a store? "I dancin' to Johnny Cash Mum!" Stomach pounding beats emerging from a passing car? "I yisten to Johnny Cash Mum!" Cash, Cash, all the time. At the moment, in the eyes of P, music is Johnny Cash. I'm inclined to think there isn't anything wrong with that. I'll just sweep under the rug her newfound love for Pink and Katy Perry...

So here we are again, Johnny Cash the focus of this week. Apologies to those who may come here for new music. Be forewarned that I have a Cash covers week planned for...I don't know, sometime. But yes, new music, soon. Pinkie swear.

God's Gonna Cut You Down - Good video, but Kate Moss? Seriously?

Boy Named Sue (live at San Quentin)

Ring of Fire

Folsom Prison Blues

Cocaine Blues

I Still Miss Someone

25 Minutes to Go

I Hung My Head: This is a Sting song. Sting. Weird to me that Fields-of-Gold-Tantric-Sex-God did a song so...grim.

The Man Comes Around: This song was the played at the very beginning of some zombie movie (new-ish "Dawn of the Dead" perhaps?)we saw at the cinema ages ago and I nearly threw up with joy into my popcorn.

I See a Darkness: LOVE this song. Also worth checking out - Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's original (that's him on background vocals on the Cash version). So bare, so bloody magnificent.

Mercy Seat: Original by Nick Cave

Long Black Veil (feat Joni Mitchell)

Ok, ok, I'm done with Cash now for at least a month, I promise.


The other side

I will cause much pain with this, yet another political post on this momentous day. It will be sufficiently less melodious and movingly written than most of the others because I have run myself into oblivion tonight and I might just be clinically half dead. I'm not quite sure, but suppose I will know the truth if I wake up tomorrow morning and I'm still alive.

I can confidently say, for the first time in years that I am proud to be an American. I spent much of my evening yesterday being moderately tearful watching the millions of people turning up to vote. My daughter, less impressed by this massive display of civic duty, chose to spend her time putting some of my jewelry into small bags and boxes. In, out, in, out. For an hour. Between moments of slight weeping, I was made to pile on the bling my a very demanding toddler screaming, "No Mummy, you wear it!" It must have been quite a sight - my tear-stained face, mountains of jewelry, and the barking of orders by Tiny Dictator. We know how to celebrate election night here!

I couldn't bear to stay up and watch the results as they came in. We're 5 hours ahead of the East Coast, and I have enough trouble not being a complete bitch in the morning when I get plenty of sleep. The Dude and I huddled around the TV first thing this morning, holding our breath as I hit the power button. My relief was significant, and ever since that time this morning I have been trying to come to grips with the enormity of this event. I have been watching videos all day of the elation and sense of potential which has overtaken not just the USA, but millions of people all over the world.

This is the reason I thought my post-election post would be a bit different to some others. As you likely know, I have lived in the UK for 6 1/2 years. I have never been a great patriot, overwhelmed by the country's conservatism, its appeasement of the religious right, and the close-mindedness that so many of its residents so blatantly display. I know these things won't change for a long time, but with the election of Obama, I at least see that there may be a chance.

At my university, both students and academic members of staff have wanted to talk politics. Upon spotting my "Pennsylvania for Obama" sign a Spanish student said yesterday, "The whole world wants Obama to win I think." Today, when buying a newspaper to commemorate the occasion, the cashier asked me if I was happy that he won. This is without knowing that I was American, proving the level of interest in this election is high, much as the bloody British keep moaning about it getting far too much coverage. The cashier beside her was a Ghanaian student I know, and he grinned and said, "I'm so happy! All of my friends are so happy too!" England - America - Ghana, united in the belief that this is the beginning of a new era.

I am still wandering around in a haze of disbelief. I'm proud of my country for making such a radical and amazing decision which will hopefully change the way the US is perceived internationally. Previous residents of the White House were not concerned with such trifling matters, and the country's residents suffered mightily.

The tears begin again thinking how amazing it is that kids whose grandparents couldn't even legally marry a person outside their own race until the 1960s can now sit with those grandparents in January and watch as a black man is made President of the United States.

I have just watched the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert coverage which only aired here tonight, and commenced with the obligatory election-related crying when Stewart and Colbert teared up announcing that Obama had won. This, an election for god's sake, has brought so many people to tears and outpourings of unadulterated joy, the notion of which is just unbelievable to me. It's inspiring, and if only for a little while so much of the world senses that we are on the cusp of something amazingly transformative.





It is a beautiful day.


Music Monday: Politickin'

In light of the small matter which will be decided this week (gulp), it has been suggested that I make this a Music Monday devoted political/protest/social issue songs. As I can only have this opportunity every 4 years, I may as well make use of it.

My daughter has gotten into the spirit of political activism, having just spontaneously started singing the chorus of James' anti-war song "Hey Ma" to me yesterday - "Hey Ma, the boys in body bags coming home in pieces". Her version is actually, "Hey Ma, duh boys in bobby bads comin' home in Peter", but I know what she means. Concern may be expressed that my 2 year old has fixated on something so gruesome, but since she doesn't know what it all means I'm not really bothered. WAR IS HELL PEOPLE!

James: Hey Ma

John Prine: Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore
-Sadly, this song was written in reference to Vietnam, yet somehow here we are again with the song still relevant.

Johnny Cash: Man in Black
-Anyone else get goosebumps listening to this? Just me then?

Billie Holiday: Strange Fruit

The Clash: London Calling

Morrissey: Irish Blood, English Heart

Bob Marley: Get Up, Stand Up

Phil Ochs: I Ain't Marchin' Anymore

System of a Down: Hypnotize

Marvin Gaye: What's Goin' On

Bob Dylan: Times They Are A-Changin'
-Because no list like these is complete without a little Dylan.

Bright Eyes: When the President Talks to God

The Decemberists: Sixteen Military Wives

The Specials: Ghost Town

Black Sabbath: War Pigs

Sam Cooke: A Change is Gonna Come

And to wrap this all up, some good old Woody Guthrie - This Land is Your Land. I had always perceived this song to be yet another vestige of flag-waving, blindly pro-American propaganda, but apparently Guthrie wrote it in response to the popularity of "God Bless America". It was written in 1940, so things kind of weren't that great in the US at the time with that whole Depression thing and all, and Guthrie found "God Bless America" to be a slap in the face considering what was really going on. Hence, This Land is Your Land.


Fingers crossed for Tuesday. I'm desperately hoping that my kid's constant shouts of "OBAMA!" with accompanying fist pumps won't be all for naught.


Your Friendly Neighbourhood Psychic Pumpkin

Slightly delayed, but Happy Halloween!

P, obviously influenced by the inherent spookiness of the holiday, went with The Dude to visit her Great-Nan to show off her pumpkin costume. Great-Nan lives alone, as her husband, The Dude's grandad, died two years ago. The story goes that P cautiously stepped across the threshold of the flat, looked around, and furrowed her brow. She asked The Dude repeatedly, "Where is he? Where is he? Where has he gone?" The Dude and Great-Nan at this point were a bit confused, and also a bit unnerved when P decided to up the eerie quotient - "I don't know where he has gone. Where is ::insert The Dude's full first name here::?" WHERE IS ::Dude's name again::?" Creepy enough on its own, but she doesn't ever hear The Dude referred to by his full first name, as he goes by a nickname. Always.

I'm a superstitious person, so this would likely have creeped me out for weeks, so I'm glad I wasn't there. The Dude, on the other hand, is the rational type. He has no time for frivolities such as life after death, but even he kept saying how weird the whole situation was. It seems Great-Nan was a bit upset about it and just as uneasy.

Last night, awake on my own, I stupidly watched Paranormal State. I usually find the show hokey and don't bother watching it, but as I'm a glutton for punishment I thought it would be fitting to watch a spooky programme on Halloween night. I went to bed suitably scared, so I really could have done without The Dude waking me up at 3am saying that one of P's musical toys was going off. I didn't want to go in and shut it off, lest P spring from a prone position with red eyes shouting "YOUR MOTHER SUCKS COCKS IN HELL!" The Dude sorted it out, and managed to leave the Psychic Pumpkin's room with no ill effects.

I'm moderately rational during daylight hours, but paint the sky dark and suddenly legions of the dead are marching through my house. I didn't sleep very well after that. Now that it's daytime again I feel a bit ridiculous, so THANK YOU Paranormal State. I don't care if you are based at my alma matter, stop frightening me. I'm a very delicate flower you know!

Despite having a direct channel to the underworld, the Psychic Pumpkin is really rather cute sometimes.

Because sometimes, even the best Psychic Pumpkin needs to dig for gold in them thar hills.