One of the best English to American translations I’ve ever seen…

I’ve never seen such an excellent translation guide between England-English and American-English.  ‘Quite good’ still catches me out sometimes after 8 years! And ‘That’s not bad’ was one of my biggest peeves when I first moved over.

Anyone considering moving across the pond – read and learn.  :)

The Royal Wedding!!! Have you ever SEEN so many crazy-mazing hats??

I literally feel exhausted after watching the royal wedding.  I was soooooo freakin’ excited!!  Far more excited, in fact, than I ever thought I’d be.

PeacefulYorkshire and I were Skyping each other while watching the prep on the BBC.  It was awesome watching Wills ride to the Westminster Abby (not a shabby place to tie the knot, I must say…).  Kate’s dress was insanely gorgeous – she looked completely perfect.  I think she did an awesome job of masking the outright terror she must have felt because of the pressure and attention.  I walked down the aisle with 35 people watching at it almost ended me… 2 billion and I would’ve needed to be air-lifted down the aisle with a special lacey bridal oxygen tank for good measure.

But my favourite part (aside from the ceremony, my Brit-lovin’-darlings) was the HATS.  Have you ever seen such outstanding hats in your life???  I couldn’t get enough of it.  I still can’t get enough of it… I’m going to have to Google some pictures after I write this.

I want one… a HUGE one.  A hat so big that the person next to me has to move down a chair because my swirly bits of fabric are waggling too close for comfort.

Have any of you lovely ladies bought giant hats or fascinators for weddings or the races?  I’ve yet to join that club… but I think I’m caving fast…

Congrats Wills and Kate!  You’re both gorgeous, lovely and surfing on a giant wave of wonga – the ladies of She’s Not From Yorkshire wish you the royal best! :)

British people are fascinated by American high school cliques – “What group would I have been in?”

yankeebean

Ok, it’s happened enough times now that it warrants a blog post.  I was a choir practice at my church the other day, sitting next to a girl who’s in her final year of GCSE’s (the equivalent of being a sophomore in high school).  During the break she came up and said,

“Y’know high school?  Do people really separate into groups like in the movies?”  She said this with a giddy excitement, clearly dying for me to say ‘yes’.

Well she was in luck, cos I did say ‘yes’, and she got really excited (well, as excited as a 16 year old girls lets herself get).  I also told her that the best description of the different cliques I’d seen was in the movie Mean Girls – it was the only movie that went into such specific detail about how niche they can be.  It’s by no means a complete list, but it hints at it…

I said all this while she smiled and flapped quietly and 16-excitedly.  And then she dropped the bomb…

“What group do you think I would have been in?”

CRAP, I knew this was going to happen… do any of you lovely American expats get this?  It’s like being instantly transported back to high school for a moment.  You have to remember all the secret rules and socialla warefare involved in just surviving.  And then you have to judge a person by those bollock-y rules that don’t matter (at least as much) any more.  Tttthhhbpbpbpbpttttt…

But let’s face it.  There can only be one answer to this question when you’re talking to a 16 year girl who’s nice and sits next to you in choir.

I told her she’d probably be a popular kid because she was cute and friendly (and English, can’t get enough of that accent over there).  She was very very very happy…

So I guess it ended well, but this is the third time someone has asked me about the cliques in high school and then asked what they would’ve been.  I’m starting to wonder if I need a standard answer that I can whip out without having to think or have high school flashbacks.  Something witty and ironic… the Brits would like that : ).  Any ideas?

**PS**

I was telling Mr Nice Guy about this and he said, “I know exactly what I would’ve been.  I would’ve been a Scrabble Jock.”  :D  I said he would’ve been the only one, but that I would’ve fancied him for it…

When an American in Britain moves to South America (with a British man): a countryless situation.

peacefulyorkshire

We plan on returning to Yorkshire , my British man (Mr. Chill)  and I, but for the next three months  are living in South America. My Ph.D. requires field work study that cannot be done on the fair island. Not that  I am unhappy about a new adventure! We have packed all of our stuff into an overpriced storage unit in Yorkshire (that shockingly costs as much as our rent in South America) and have made the move.

This is Mr. Chill’s first time living in another place besides England.   I can relate wholeheartedly when he misses British things I find true to his nationality (well how can I talk? I missed Swiss Miss cocoa, Fruity Pebbles and Mac and Cheese for goodness sake. Bleh!). Mr, Chill misses the lack of British organisation to keep things running ‘smoothly’. He misses British Leicestershire, Cheshire and Gloucestershire cheeses that are nowhere to be found here and ‘rule following’ people. He misses quality single malt scotch, dark pubs, mega-stores like Tesco and cinemas in English.  As for me, after two weeks the Latin-ness in my blood is rejoicing. England? As far away as a dream.

I won’t lie and say I miss being in England. I don’t. It is refreshing to be away from rules of class and feeling like I am insulting people all the time by just being myself. For the first time in a  long time my awkwardness in social settings is gone. I don’t miss the dreary grey skies (Mr. Chill does…). I love being able to be out at the weekends and not see drunk people puking and wreaking havoc on the streets. God, I now live in one of the most dangerous South American countries and I feel safer here than I do in Yorkshire on a Saturday night.  I like that on average there are 2 protests here a day in the city. I like that because it means people here aren’t complacent and are wanting to be heard. Many care what happens in their often-corrupt government and will not be silent. Having suffered a military coup and then an economic crisis. People don’t seem to have the barriers of polite self-consciousness that I find in England. Directness is always my cuppa anyway so I love this.

But hey, I know that the things I find to be shackles of ‘British living’ come with the package of choosing England. Everything has a price and that is the cost I pay to have the wonderful things there like the great man I have met, a career I have built from nothing , the many friends and lovely family of Mr. Chill’s I have become close to. The clean quiet order of the life I found there.

By contrast, our South American life is not ordered, nor quiet. Where we  live now is ripe with poverty on our doorstep while chaotic traffic zooms past. We can’t ignore the hungry.  People sleep on our doorstep at night and rummage through our trash at night looking for things to eat or reuse. Packs of  dogs roam the streets with no owners to claim them.

When a local asks Where are you from? I answer I am American. But  I am not a clear cut woman identified by habits from my birth nation.  As if living in England has cleansed me  from claiming any nationality outright– and I wouldn’t have realised that until we arrived here. The hardest thing I did not expect is the inability to find a ‘country’ to claim as my cultural identity. Living in Britain I was always ‘the American’. Here, I am not.

And and I certainly don’t feel in anyway British– although the social mores I have learned there stick to me like a rash. Like the unrecognisable reserved nature that has become me when meeting new people, my ability to have patience in lines, my allegiance to the BBC and the way I can  just about master the  fork in my left hand. I said to myself just this morning, who is this countryless lady that is now me?

But, for now I enjoy my confusion and  soak in the rich Latin American culture of my heritage. I will continue to blog as an ex-pat from my new temporary place and —well, just enjoy being  myself, countryless lay-deh and all.

The English and the (real) Female Body: A love affair

yankeebean

When I first came to England I was 16 years old and I was a US size 18 (UK 16).  I moved from an affluent area where a US size 8 (UK 10) was considered fat and all the popular kids looked like Abercrombie and Fitch models.  (Seriously – I once heard a group of girls gossiping scandalously about a ‘friend’ of theirs that was a size 8.  There was much gasping and OMG-ing going on…).

UK 18 and UK 20 are the same size – but they felt a world apart.  My size went from being taboo to being faboo in the time it took me to fly across the ocean.  It was AWESOME… and bloody good timing as a 16 year old :)

It’s the norm in the UK to show bodies of all shapes and sizes in the media.  Literally, ALL shapes and sizes.  The UK has a love affair with the real female body and I LOVE IT.

I’m not going to talk about health – I know there are health factors blah blah blah, but I’m not a health guru and that’s not what this is about.  But having been heavier in my life, I know for a fact that making people feel badly about themselves is NOT how you get them to start living a healthier lifestyle.

There’s a wonderful glorification of ‘flaunt what you’ve got’ here.  Find your best features and spotlight those puppies.  Got boobs?  Lift and separate :) .  Got legs?  Walk the walk.  Got arms?  Work those guns.

Don’t worry so much about what you don’t have – focus on what you DO have and work work work it.  Then revel in the confidence of your best bits.

For evidence, watch an episode of the UK’s ‘How to Look Good Naked‘ – this show always leaves me laughing out loud and beaming with joy.  It’s guaranteed to make you feel like a powerful gorgeous saucy-licious woman.  I’m always tempted to strip down to the nip and run around after I watch it, much to Mr. Nice Guy’s delight… :D

How to talk about money in England – Don’t.

yankeebean

No matter how English I think I’m getting, that ol’ American-ness always manages to seep through the cracks…

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it, but a sometimes it results in severe foot-in-mouth syndrome.  Not the one where you eat dodgy beef and get loopy – the one where you open your yap and offend someone without meaning to.  I’m a freakin’ expert - I should be the case study to see if it’s curable.

Anyway, this is all leading up to the root of most of my red-faced-foot-chewing moments lately.  I keep bringing up money as a knee-jerk reaction.  I do it because it GENUINELY doesn’t bother me, talking about money doesn’t seem like such a big deal in the good ol’ US of A.

But I’m learning very quickly that it bothers everyone else and I should keep my mouth shut.

I usually know I’ve done it because there’s a brief beat of silence and some kind of shuffling ensues.  The dance of discomfort – I quickly join in a split second after everyone else, once I realise that I’ve done it again.  (again!?!  GAHH!!)

But then what should I do??  It’s too late to take it back, I haven’t learned Hiro’s trick of bending space and time, no spare Doloreans nearby to go 1.21 jigawatts.  My current method is to start talking really fast in an obviously over-excited tone trying to fillfillfill.  Subtle?  No… it doesn’t take a genius to spot the vaudeville-worthy performance that I launch in to.

I think the only way to recover is to have a fail-proof subject change, so I’m fishing for ideas… anyone?  Anyone?  Just something to get me by until I get the clue and stop bloody bringing it up like some kind of noob.  Sigh…

De-mystifying the ‘British girl’s night out’, or ‘Why do some British women dress like hookers when Saturday night rolls around?’

peacefulyorkshire

peacefulyorkshire

Ok, so the blog title is a little unfair. When Saturday night comes rollin’ in some British women don’t always look like hookers.  No, sorry, my mistake—sometimes they could be classified as looking like strippers. I am still trying to decide which of the two is a better description for my Yorkshire city on a Saturday night. Stripper or hooker…wait, maybe stripper. Maybe a hooker slash stripper. Maybe a hooker with a dash and swoosh of stripper.  Maybe a hooker stroke wannabe stripper. Whateveh you want to call it, honey–after 5 years of living on this little island in the North Sea, I am still trying to figure out why some British women let themselves pour out of their clothes on a night out. Yes, pour out is the perfect sentiment.

I decided to ask Cat, an English female friend  ‘So, why do British women dress like hookers on Saturday night?’

Her response? Because they are desperate and on the pull. And they think it looks good. ‘

(Cat, a devoted Marks and Spencer clothing lovah  is not one of these Saturday night ladies, mind you.)

I asked Carlo,  a British football coach the same question ‘So, why do British women dress like hookers on Saturday night?’

His answer—–‘They do!?’ (I had some serious laughing at this point)

As an American living in Yorkshire, I think that I have started to figure out the ladies night out in Britain. It’s simple, my lovelies!!

  • Just wear as little as possible in material as tight as possible.  Got it, little and tight are your motto.
  • If you have lots of flesh, don’t fret. Make sure it hangs out in abundance. Bonus if you can show your cellulite and cleavage.
  • NEVER wear a coat, we want everyone to see your gorgeous Primark outfit– which shows off your white (or orange depending on your style!)  legs.
  • yes, let’s talk about legs. If your legs are ‘larger’ than most you will need to expose them as high up as you can show them…. like up to where your bum starts is fine, no worries!
  • By now you should know that if you are really serious about your weekend then flats are a no-no. If you wiggle and wobble and can not walk properly in your eight inchers then these are the ones to wear!
  • Oh and before I forget. Probably best to wear all the make-up you own at once.

And here you are complaining to your British man you have nothing to wear to your next Christmas office party?? Just look in your lingerie drawer!

The differences between America and England

yankeebean

yankeebean

My grandma is English – she’s a British war bride that fell for a strapping American soldier.  She moved to America back in the day and knew that it was going to be forever – basically she had metaphorical cojones…

I asked her once how long it took her to feel like she was American rather than English…

“Ten years,” she said.

And back in 2004, when I took to the skies, that seemed like a freakin’ LOOOOOONG time – BAD long, y’know?  Impossible long.  But now, five years in, it doesn’t seem so bad any more.

I think a big part of that is because I don’t compare America to England as much.  Aside from a small number of niche cravings (Chicago pizza, automatic transmissions, yadayadayada), America is America and England is England – bada bing bada boom (I feel like I’m in the mob whenever I use that phrase, my kingdom for a Brooklyn accent!)

I don’t crave tea as much when I’m in America, I hop in the car without inner-moaning about how nothing is walkable, I LOVE STARBUCKS and unabashedly go there for a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious skinny latte without feeling guilty.

When I’m in England I make all my coffee at home and love it, I walk to the store and merrily (well, not exactly merrily) haul my groceries back to the flat up a big hill and then up 4 flights of stairs, I hang my washing out to dry without lamenting about our lack-o-tumble-dryer.

According to my awesome-Gram’s calculations, I’m half-way to feeling British.  I wonder if I’m on schedule…

I definitely feel like something has clicked in my head that helps me deal with being an expat shamerican.  My progress can be summed up by the quote of a wise sage, “Where ever you are, there you are.”

American in Britain AND Brit in America

yankeebean

yankeebean

Part of being an American woman, and dating or marrying an English man is that one of you will always be living in a land in which you weren’t made.  Or, of course, you’ll opt to jump ship from both your native lands to even the score…

Normally I’m the American in Britain and I’ve gone through all of the exciting, sometimes brain-squeezing adjustments involved.  Whether I like it or not, being an ‘American in Britain’ is a big part of who I am – and how other people see me.  It’s often the way I’m introduced, “This is Yankeebean – she’s American”

But Mr. Nice Guy and I just got back from a 2 week stint in the lovely USA, where he became the Brit in America.  It really brings me back to when I was the new expat in town – I almost couldn’t believe some of the stuff people said to him (especially since, 5 years in, I’m partially Brit-in-America now, too).

A lot of it was about the accent – and many many many of my lady friends in the USA went on and on, right to his face, about how gorgeous he was :D  And I’m not the jealous type so I just kept thinking ‘score one for me!’…

Another common thing is that people would ask him where he’s from, and they would then describe one of their past holidays to London because, to many Americans, London IS England.  Mr. Nice Guy was a good sport about it – even though I could tell he was embarrassed from the top of his spiky hair to the bottom of his man-Sketchers when my friends were fawning over him.  Classic:)

And so it goes!  Either I’m the American in Britain or Mr. Nice Guy is the Brit in America – it’s just the way things are now and, actually, I think we’re getting good at it (finally!  High fiiiiiiiive!!)

What do you say to a British person who’s bashing England?

yankeebean

yankeebean

I went to a ‘networking-of-doom’ event the other day and an English guy walked up me and said, “Oh my God, I just HAVE to find out where you’re from in America, I can’t take it anymore.”  (I guess he’d heard my joyful, thunderous hard-R’s from across the room or something…)

So I smiled and gave my standard where-I-came-from speech (I could do it in my sleep, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I DO say it my sleep…)

He was a complete America-lover, but he didn’t talk so much about loving America – instead he kept going on about how much he HATED England.

I was like a deer in the headlights… I didn’t know WHAT to do in order to escape the situation with everyone’s feelings in tact.  I quickly scanned through the options, much like the Terminator when in a situation of danger.  I could:

  1. Agree with every thing he said and use the opportunity to have a good ol’ rant about every thing that annoys me.  But I didn’t want to risk taking it too far and turning his gung-ho attitude into an ‘I-think-you’re-a-ho’ attitude.  I know we’re all familiar with that defensiveness that creeps in even if it’s only a bunch of English people talking about how much they hate CSI Miami.
  2. Smile and laugh and say nothing (yeah, right… saying nothing isn’t exactly my strong point.  I’d get hungry if my foot wasn’t constantly in my mouth)
  3. Disagree with him and defend my nation 2.0, trying to come up with the positive side to everything that seemed to make him clutch his moobs in dispair.

In the end, I opted for a kind of combination of 1 and 3.  Laughing and smiling like a loon, agreeing with him while also trying to point out anything positive I could.  It ended up feeling very aren’t-we-all-just-amazing-and-blameless-and-innocent-as-fresh-snowfall.

I don’t think he noticed my inner Terminator calculations - he seemed perfectly happy… phew!