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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hello, is Mr Wall there? (muffled laughter)

This week I've come across two brilliant-beyond-brilliant news stories—and it's only Tuesday!

In case you missed them...

McDonalds is trialling all-day breakfast

As most of you know, I'm a long-time fan of the Egg McMuffin, and I've been campaigning for years to get McDonalds to serve breakfast all day, at least on weekends. Why this is only just happening now I am genuinely perplexed. Heck, you don't even have to make it all day, but cutting us off at 10:30am? What kind of wartime rationing communist BS is that?

Lucky for McDonalds, I'm a forgiving person. When all-day breakfast comes to the Kenmore location, I shall participate.

Michael Jackson used to prank call Russell Crowe

Now this is just delightful. It's like I've died and gone to bizarre fun facts heaven. Here's what the unable-to-get-an-Australian-passport, phone-throwing, almost-kidnapped-by-al-Qaida actor told The Guardian about MJ's pranking spree:

“For two or three f—king years,” he says. “I never met him, never shook his hand, but he found out the name I stayed in hotels under, so it didn’t matter where I was, he’d ring up do this kind of thing, like you did when you were 10, you know. ‘Is Mr Wall there? Is Mrs Wall there? Are there any Walls there? Then what’s holding the roof up? Ha ha.’ You’re supposed to grow out of doing that, right?”

Say what you will about Michael Jackson, but the guy knew how to have FUN.

I bet you anything MJ had this phone. Neverland Ranch décor at its finest.


Monday, March 30, 2015

I've gone over to the dark side

I did it.

I bought an iPhone.


So long peaceful, voluntary isolation.

Goodbye smiling at strangers in the Starbucks line. 

Sayonara leaving 'what-was-the-name-of-that-band'-type questions unanswered.

Hello buzzing on my nightstand just as I drift asleep. 

Howdy trying to stop myself from reading emails at red lights.

Welcome urge to preserve everything cute/cool/artsy in my life on Instagram. 


I've had my reservations for a long time. And I'll certainly miss my dumbphone. But I don't want to be a luddite. I'm embarrassed that I'm so bad at touch-screens. 

It was time. I'll be fine. I won't let it change who I am. 

Your old friend,

P.S. RHOBH reunion tomorrow night. Kyle R. says it's the most intense reunion of all five seasons. To say I'm looking forward to it = major understatement. I'm shite-ing myself. 

P.P.S. OK, you're on to me. I never smiled at strangers in the Starbucks line. I stare at the rubbery croissants and contemplate buying one.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Greetings, Suppressive Persons

Anna invited us over to watch the HBO Scientology documentary tonight. I've been reading about this exposé for months. HBO had to hire 160 lawyers in order to make the thing. Finally, it was time for the big unveiling! I was so excited I couldn't stop eating grapes (in a bowl on Anna's coffee table—mine for the gobbling!).

It came as no surprise that the beliefs and practices of the Church of Scientology are nutso. Like most religions, it's all based on a science fiction book. And who am I to tell anyone what to believe?

But the troublesome bit is the tax exemption stuff. The organization doesn't have to pay any tax because it's classified as a religion. What kind of bullroar is that!?! You're telling me that I have to cough up 25% of my income, but Tom Cruise gets to write-off the millions he puts into the church (which, in turn, provides him with swanky cars and pimped-out airplane hangers and made-to-order wives)?

I was also struck by the fact that the documentary, while seriously damning, didn't actually go into some of the stranger rumors. Even with their 160 lawyers as backup, the filmmakers didn't touch the Leah Remini / Shelly Miscavige missing-person report scandal. I think there's a lot that the film didn't reveal out of fear of litigation.

In other news, I think my migraines may happen because I clinch my jaw in my sleep. I suspect that I do this, since my jaw aches a bit sometimes. But how can I ever be sure unless I buy a night-vision camera and film myself in my sleep? Watching the footage back would be pretty creepy, but also a minefield of potential blog material.

In other other news, I've decided to convert to Scientology. You're all SPs and I'm going to have to disconnect from you.



Saturday, March 28, 2015

Overwhelmed by the flora and fauna

Since I've been home I've had to stop myself from petting every tree I come across. I've always known that the Pacific Northwest is a beautiful place, but never before have I appreciated the sheer variety of trees scattered across this fertile land.

It's overwhelming!

Cedars, maples, oaks, alders, poplars, dogwoods, pines, spruces, willows, cherry blossoms—just look at them all! The big, the small, the broad-leaved, the coniferous, living in harmony, sheltering our wildlife and pumping out the oxygen that fills our lungs, courses through our veins and infuses life into each and every cell of our body.

And it's not just the flora that's stopped me in my tracks. The fauna too!

They have squirrels in Edinburgh, but the ones here are HAPPY. They bounce from branch to branch like it's cirque du soleil. Their fur is thick and brown and they grin at you when you walk by.

As for the birdlife, don't even get me started. Every morning I wake up to a symphony of chirps from the most delighted bird choir on earth. I bet you anything they're singing, "I love it here!"

Don't roll your eyes at me. Other than this blog post and the moccasins I bought in Summer 2009, I'm not that earthy. I've tried Toms of Maine deodorant and I just can't get on board with it. Still, sometimes you can't help but give credit where credit's due. Mother Nature, you are one gorgeous broad.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Microsoft, lock up your cricket players!

Andy has the green light to move to Seattle! His visa was approved.

Because I'm lazy and it's 11:11pm (woah, all 1s), I'll copy/paste our gchat conversation below.

Andy Williamson
hi lunk
Margaret Kay
should I call
Andy Williamson
I'm in s-bucks and et's pretty besy
so i cannae really talk
Margaret Kay
How was it?!?/1/!
Andy Williamson
so easy
total time in the embassy (including queuing) 2 hours
total time spent talking to embassy staff - 3 minutes
Margaret Kay
What!? Crazy! And they told you it was "approved"?
Andy Williamson
interview 1 was where i handed in all the forms, then I sat back down
then I got called through to the interview woman who asked very, very cursory questions
and then just said, yep, that's good enough for me

After all the hassle of getting the visa documents together (long story, but it involves some tax forms being dropped off and left for dead at a jewellery shop by an idiot postman), I was SHOCKED that he was approved in just a few minutes.

We were prepared for the worst, and expected the worst. But we ended up with the best case scenario, all things considered.

I told him we all wear American flags behind our ears (shhhhh! don't tell - it's a hilarious prank)
There is one thing. After the interview, Andy spent a lovely day in London with some mates before hopping on the Tube for London City Airport to make his 9:20pm flight back to Edinburgh. Only problem is that he was booked on the 7:45pm flight. All that visa success went to his head and he forgot he booked the earlier flight! Luckily, he was able to make it to the train station in time to blag his way into a first class ticket on the Caledonian Sleeper for the price of coach. In fact, he's snoozing to the sound of "Chugga Chugga Choo Choo" as I type this. 

Now, if you'll please join me in raising your glass to our newest United States resident, Andy Williamson! 

Hip hip? Hooray! 

Hip hip? Hooray! 

Hip hip? Hooray! 

Hmmm...should those "hip hips" have ended in a question mark? I'm second guessing myself. 

Egads. Two stream-of-consciousness blog posts in a row. 

Cheerio, Margaret 

P.S. The title of this post was a spin on "Mothers, lock up your daughters!" Just FYI. 

P.P.S. Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about how my friend Tori and her sister thought the Kool & the Gang song lyrics were "Celebrate the Taj Mahal"? Well, today my nieces and I were having a dance party to celebrate finishing an alphabet jigsaw puzzle and a certain bro-in-law of mine starting singing, "Celebrations now, come on!" I mean, hilarious. Kool, you and your gang clearly need to annunciate better.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I wanna soak up the suuuuunnnnnn

So weird that Sheryl Crow was engaged to Lance Armstrong for a bit. He would be the worst husband. The WORST. Also—fun fact—she also dated Owen Wilson back in the day.

But the title of this post refers to more than a Sheryl Crow ditty. It refers to my LIFE! Living in Scotland, I've been sun-starved for the past five years. Now I'm home and, sing it with me, I wanna soak up the suuuuunnnnnn. 

As luck would have it, the sun was out today. And I mean really out. According to my Mom's volvo, it was 72°F. I wore black jeans, a terrible choice. My legs were hot to the touch.

Yikes. It's 11:38pm and I need to finish a bit of work. I left this blog post way too late, but I refuse to apologize for it. My Dad told me back in November that I need to stop apologizing for sub-par blog posts. He's right. Saying sorry too much is a stinky cologne.

Have you noticed that I've returned to American English? Check out that "z" (pronounced zee, not zed) in "apologize."


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

That time we almost got kidnapped

I found some photos of my siblings and I posing in/next to a man's vintage yellow convertible. It was taken in Seaside, Oregon circa 1991. The man was cruising around with two giant teddy bears in the backseat and offered to take us for a spin.

I remember this like it was yesterday, and we talked about it for years afterward. How cool it was. First of all, a convertible! It was a thrill to even spot one, let alone ride in one. Secondly, the big bears. It's impossible to resist giant stuffed animals.

I showed my Mom the photos tonight and she gasped.

"Oh God! That's my most shameful moment as a parent," she said.

"I was totally taken in by the spectacle, and I let him drive away with you all. He just seemed like such a kind man. And it was so fun. It was only after you were gone for a long time that I thought: oh no, what if he's some pervert?"

Thankfully, he happened to be one of the few giant teddy bear chauffeurs that isn't a pedophile. We lucked out.

That's all for tonight. It's been a busy day and I'm going to treat myself to a bath + Mindy Project + glass of ice water.

Later gater,


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dyson dreamin'

Getting excited about vacuums is LAME. Yet we all do it. We can't help ourselves! It's in our nature.

OK, so maybe you don't look forward vacuuming—who does? It's a chore. But what about after you've just changed the filter? Huh? Yeah. Now we're talking.

And when a Dyson commercial comes on the telly—admit it—your ears perk up, your heart skips a beat and you gaze into that silverfox's eyes like he's yahweh incarnate.

It's OK to admit it. You get excited about vacuums. Because vacuums are exciting. We all feel that way. There's no reason to be ashamed.

Yesterday Anna was telling us how she vacuumed inside a heat vent for the first time. Ollie spilled milk down there, and when she lifted off the metal slats she was astounded by the amount of dust and cheerios that called the warm alcove home. As luck would have it, she had just purchased a brand new vacuum and boy was it in for one hell of an inauguration.

Image by Arpingstone via Wikimedia Commons

Reasons we can't help but get excited by vacuums and vacuuming:

  • The physical representation of our dirt-infested lives. Actually being able to see the dust clumps piling up in the plastic canister...well, it's exhilarating. 

  • Your system. Whether you go diagonally across the room or straight forward and straight back, you have a system. Vacuuming is the lawn-mowing of the indoors. You mustn't miss a spot, and it's prudent to overlap your previous line by a few inches just for good measure. You know this, and you enjoy adhering to it. 

  • The suction. The suction alone is fascinating enough. This is particularly true for Shop-Vacs and vacuums with a hose extension. The dirt's there and then—SLURP—it's gone! What power. What majesty. 

  • Winding the cord. Are you a criss-crosser? Or do you prefer a perfect O-shaped loop? Either way, winding the cord up and using that little plastic doodad to fasten the end onto an earlier bit is satisfying as FECK*.

Good morrow, 

*Not swearing. Irish people say it's OK.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Your tax dollars at work

Just when I have doubts that there's no room left for another marketing agency in this world, something changes my mind. Today, it was a video from the US Embassy in London.

Before you watch, things to keep in mind:
  • This is an OFFICIAL video, from the US Embassy in London's OFFICIAL YouTube channel. 
  • The video is only 4 years old. 
  • This is the embassy that recently commissioned an artist to design a hideous $1 million granite sculpture to be displayed in the building. So, they're not necessarily on a tight budget. 

Yeeesh. I've always wondered how many record scratch sound effects are too many, and now I have my answer.

US State Department, if you're reading this, please let me produce your next video. I'm a whiz with iMovie (proof), and I'll probably charge you less than half what you paid for this steaming turd.

In other news, today I:
  • Walked to the Kenmore Starbucks and worked on the website for an upcoming business venture with my sistahs.
  • Bought healthcare. The lady from WA Healthplanfinder was nice and helpful, so maybe the government isn't all that bad. However, whoever signed off on 'Healthplanfinder' as one word needs to be fired.
  • Got new running shoes in the mail. 
  • Ate dinner at Kid Valley with my parents. We admired the view of Kenmore Premix and agreed that it's actually kind of cool, in a vintage, industrial sort of way. The city has promised us a fancy Kirkland-style waterfront for years now, but let's ask ourselves: are we really prepared to see the Premix go? 

Peace be with you,

P.S. Thanks Andy for sending me the video.

P.P.S. Just watched the video for a fifth time, and I think I like it now. I'm rooting for the poor guy. And I'm right there with him when he does the "YES!" arms in the air thing. GREAT video. Love it.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Cracker aisle glory

I'm sure you're still reeling from Rob Kardashian's latest Instagram post, but take a break from your speculating to read tonight's post.

It's about crackers.

America has a lot wrong with it. Guns. Healthcare. Ill-fitting jeans. But the one thing it does better than any other country in the world: CRACKERS!

In the UK, they don't even have crackers. Well, not really. They have crisps and oatcakes and Ryvita Thins and "savoury biscuits". They  have very buttery, Ritz-style things that are richer than a flourless fudge cake. You can eat a couple, but a plateful will make you ill. And I suppose they have these things called "cream crackers" that are like Saltines minus the salt. They're so flavorless that the Brits butter them. Yep, they spread butter on their crackers in the UK and then they eat them, just like that.

So you can imagine my excitement when I walked down the cracker aisle at QFC today. I felt like Templeton from Charlotte's Web. What a smorgasboard!

  • Triscuits!
  • Wheat Thins!
  • Cheeze-Its!
  • Cheese Nips!
  • Ritz!
  • Saltines!
  • Ak-Maks!
  • Club Crackers!
  • Pita Bites!
  • Goldfish!
The list goes on and on. Also, each of the above has at least two variations, even if it's just a reduced-salt version and a regular version. According to my calculations, there 12 flavors of Goldfish crackers. Count 'em.

  1. Original
  2. Cheddar
  3. Parmesean
  4. Graham
  5. Cheddar Colors
  6. Xtra Cheddar
  7. Wild White Cheddar
  8. Slammin' Sour Cream & Onion
  9. Xplosive Pizza
  10. Burstin' BBQ
  11. Nacho Cheese
  12. Queso Fiesta
Image by Pennybinary via Flickr

If variety is the spice of life, then the cracker aisle is the spiciest place on earth.

And now, for the inevitable question: are you a Triscuit person or a Wheat Thin person? I picked a side a long time ago, but I forget which side I picked. I think  it was Wheat Thins, because they're easier to consume in large quantities. But the truth is, I like them both.


Saturday, March 21, 2015


I wore this beret not in spite of, but because of, school picture day.

It was my coolest accessory, and I wanted to look gooooood.

When I wore it, I felt like Mary-Kate and/or Ashley. Or maybe even Gia, Stephanie Tanner's rebellious friend. It made me feel grown-up and popular.

So when the photographer's assistant tried to get me to take it off, I answered with a firm: "No." This middle-aged bimbo wasn't going to ruin my school photo. Oh no. I was wearing the beret, and that was final.

But when the photos arrived in my cubby months later, I was surprised by the results. Why did the picture not reflect how cool I knew I looked? Was that what I really looked like? Were my bangs that messy the whole day? I was crushed.

All of this brings me to tonight's topic: hats.

  • Baseball hats = American as apple pie. Today, in line at a jam-packed Starbucks, I realised that every man in there between the ages of 18 and 58 was wearing a baseball cap. When Andy moves across, how long will it take until he cracks? It may seem very "American" to him, but won't he want to fit in?

  • Fedora vs. Trilby. What you may think of as a fedora is actually a trilby. It's an important distinction to make. Trilbys have been giving fedoras a bad name for a while now. 

  • Hat comeback. Will hats ever make there way back into the mainstream? Not just for special occasions, but part of everyday life? Like in Mad Men? I hope so. It's hard to imagine that West Coast America could become any more casual, so the only option left is to start getting dressier. A few generations from now, and we may be back to early-1900s hat culture, when even criminals and homeless men wore suits and hats. Heck, in the 18th century, all men—aristocrats and laborers alike—wore top hats! Imagine if we circled back to that. 
Vintage mugshot from Australia, 1921.
Image via Twisted Sifter via The Sydney Justice & Police Museum

Brunel in a sea of top hats at the launch of the SS Great Eastern, 1857.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

That's it! I'm still a little jet-legged. The only cure is time. I'll be back to my awake-self next week.

The sunsets in Kenmore are lovely. 


Friday, March 20, 2015

Ferry freaks

We were eating lunch on the ferry boat when Anna nudged me and whispered, "I can't handle that guy with the gloves. Are you watching this? Look behind Mom."

I looked up, and sure enough, at the table next to us was a man wearing stretchy latex gloves and eating a sandwich. Creeeeeeepy. They were the standard white gloves doctors use. The kind that are a bit dusty on the inside. The ones you can blow up to make cow-udder balloons.

Anna says she watched him sit down and carefully slip them on one-by-one, like he was about to perform heart surgery. His sandwich was open-faced, so maybe he didn't want to get any mustard on his precious paws. Or maybe he's just a germaphobe. Perhaps this is how he eats all finger foods, condiments or no condiments.

Always one to assume the worst, I suspected he was eating one final meal before going on a murderous rampage. A disgruntled former ferry boat operator ready to get his revenge. "I'll just have a quick bite before I shoot up the place, leaving not a fingerprint in my wake."

Anna asked me, "Do you ever find yourself really studying a person in case you have to describe them to a police sketcher?"

I answered, "Yes. All the time. Every day."

When the ferry pulled into Kingston, the man got up, yanked off the gloves and tossed them in the trash. He grabbed his keys from his pocket and headed down the stairs to his car. No rampage. We could breathe easy.

BUT WAIT. There's more.

As we were getting back in our cars to leave Edmonds, Anna shouted across the parking lot, "Remind me to tell you something else. Something to add to your blog about the glove guy."

I just called her to get the scoop. Apparently, when we were exiting the ferry, there was another guy sitting near the door, slowly and meticulously scratching a scratch card with a LARGE SWITCHBLADE.

Come on, ferry people. Get it together!


Thursday, March 19, 2015


For the past four years, something very dear to my heart has been notably absent from my life. 

A bathtub. 

Now, back in the comfort of my childhood home, I'm making up for lost time. I've already enjoyed five soaks since my return to the US two days ago. 

Me + bathtub = HEAVEN! 

Nothing can warm you up like a bath. It heats you to the bone. 

Even if you're not a "bath person", trust me, you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone (Mitchell, 1970). At least appreciate that you have the option to take one. Go give your tub a hug. 

When I was in junior high and high school, I would stay in the bath for hours, drinking peppermint tea and reading. As the minutes ticked by, the water would get cold, so I'd pour whatever was left in my mug over myself. It was gross. 

Nowadays, I can't stay in for longer than a few minutes. I'm intolerant to anything less than scalding. Also, I read on a Kindle now. No falling asleep with the bathwater nipping at my R.L. Stine paperback. Instead, I have to lean off the ledge to read safely away from the water's reach. It's far less comfortable and has shortened my bath time significantly. 

Facts about me and baths:
  • When we were young kiddos, I pooped in a bath I was sharing with my sister Anna. I watched Anna attempt to catch the floating turd (she thought it was some sort of bath toy), before warning her at the last minute: "That's my poop!"
  • I always sit in the tub while it fills up. I don't wait until it's full to get in. I've always done it this way. Not saying it's better, but just that old habits die hard. 
  • In our family, growing up, a "bubble bath" meant squirting half a bottle of Dawn dish soap near the running faucet. It did a number on the skin, but boy did you get a lot of bubbles for your buck. Sometimes I would squirt the bottom of an empty tub with Dawn and slide back and forth on the slipery surface. Weeeee!!! It was fun, but for a good week afterward it would sting whenever I went pee. 
Speaking of baths, I just emerged from one. I was resting my jet-legs and trying to remember what I did this morning, which seems like months ago. That's what happens when you wake up at 5am. 

Be the jaysus; I'm tired. 


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Lease be with you

Today was my first day as a born-again American.

Top of my 'to do' list? Make a bowl cut appointment with the family hairdresser, Lida at HairMasters. That was easy. I'm going on Friday.

Next on the list? Sign up for healthcare. It's proving a trickier task.

In order to apply for 'Special Enrollment' (because Open Enrollment has closed) I need to upload proof of my change of address to the Washington State healthcare website. They'll accept a letter from either a government agency or a utility company.

I tried:

  • Updating my voter registration details and requesting a voter registration card, but the address they had on file was already the Kenmore address. 
  • Requesting a statement on my student loans, but they only send them via email. 
  • Registering an official account at the Social Security website, thinking I may be able to request some sort of official pamphlet. No can do. And ordering a new SS card would cost $$.
  • Paying $13 to get an official Driving Record from the Department of Licensing. But what happened after I entered my card details and clicked 'confirm'? That's right, the page re-directed to a PDF of the records to PRINT AT HOME!

Finally, I decided to call WA Health Finder to see if they would accept any alternative documents. Maybe I could just scan in my passport? I could also include my UK visa to show that the expiration date corresponds with my move back to the US?

I spoke to a man called Devoski, who told me that the only other document they would accept is a lease.

D: "Your other option would be to have your Mom create a lease and then have you sign it."

M: "Oh, really? Like, just have her write up a lease?"

D: "Well, not 'write up', but, you know, like get one..."

M: "Oh, so does it have to be notarized or something?"

D: "No, it just needs to be a lease."

M: "OK, so my Mom makes a lease and then I sign it?"

D: "Yes."

—Let me jump in here to say I was pretty skeptical at this point. Have my very own mother type up a lease as proof of my new address? It just seemed so silly. How would that prove that I just moved here? How would they know I hadn't been living here all along?—

M: "Are there any other options? The dropdown menu on the website says, 'mail from government agency', 'mail from utility company' and 'other'. But you're telling me that 'other' really just means 'lease'?

D: "Yeah. A lease is the other option."

M: "So why doesn't it list 'mail from government agency', 'mail from utility company' and 'lease' as the three options? Why do they leave 'other' so open-ended, when the only other acceptable form of proof is a lease?"

D: "I don't know. Those are the only options."

M: "OK, thank you. I'll do the lease then. "

I know that conversation makes me look like a B. But trust me, D was the one being a B. He had a very sarcastic tone.

Snarky customer service aside, I couldn't help but be struck by the absurdity of it all. Let's face it, it would be so easy for someone to forge any one of these documents. Need a utility bill? Just Google the utility company logo, add it to the header of a Word doc and write up some fake billing info. A lease would be even easier. Simply print a free lease template off the Internet and scribble in some random signatures.

I'm not condoning forging official documents. That's fraud. What I'm saying is that the ease at which people could forge official documents discredits the whole system. A lease or a letter doesn't "verify" anything. The only way to prove I live somewhere is to knock on the door at 3am and see if I answer it, half asleep and in my pajamas. Even then, I could have broken in, tied up the actual homeowners and staged the whole thing.

One time Andy needed proof of address at our old flat in Edinburgh, but the utility bills were in our other flatmate's name. Instead, he had me take a snap of him standing on the front step with the door open, one foot inside the flat. We made sure the address letters were visible in the photo. Guess what? They actually accepted it as proof.

Anyway, none of this matters. For some reason, a lease is still valid proof of address. No skin off my back.

Here's my new lease, signed by owner (Nadinski Montbrosis) and tenant (me).

Page 1

I uploaded it. Verification is pending. We'll see if it works.


P.S. Being home is great. I've already taken two baths, walked Greenlake, eaten a Weight Watchers fudgical, bought organic cumin seeds from PCC and fed bread crusts to a red-winged blackbird. And it's only my first day back!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Back for good

I'm sitting at the Glasgow Airport, using my 30 minutes of free Internet to Google developments on the Robert Durst case. Also, to schedule in a blog post in case I'm too jet-legged to function when I land. Future Margaret, kick back and relax. I've got you covered.

SAD things about the journey so far

  • Saying goodbye to Ram at Waverley Station. Hopefully we'll find a way to reunite during these five months. 
  • 'Back for good' by Take That is playing on the airport radio. Whatever I said, whatever I did, I didn't mean it. I just want you back for good. Want you back! Want you back! Want you back for goooooood. Tearjerker. 

GOOD things about the journey so far

  • I got the right bus to the airport. Last time the man yelled at us and said we were on the wrong shuttle. We just kind of stood there and he was eventually like "OK, fine." But this time, no trouble. 
  • I found a power socket. Now I shall hog it until my MacBook battery is boasting 100%. 

FANTASTIC things about the journey so far

  • My bags were a little overweight (just like I like my men - HA), but they took them anyway. No hassle! I was prepared to unpack and wear all my bulky sweaters on the plane, but no need. 
  • I just spotted these bad boys across the room. Massage chairs. YES. Now excuse me while I take one for a spin. 


P.S. Thanks UK folks for your texts and Facebook farewells. 

P.P.S. Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Trend alert: the rat tail returns

I totally called this.

The "rat-tail" is back.

The Guardian is speculating that, thanks to Shia LaBeouf and menswear brands like Cottweiler, we will soon be seeing a lot more men sporting nasty little hair-eels down their necks. It's sad but true. The 80s hairstyle, also known as the 'barber missed a spot' look, is this year's hipster man bun.

I have a distant memory of someone telling me that they cut off a boy's rat-tail in elementary school. He was sitting at the desk in front of them and they couldn't resist. Just pulled the scissors out of their pencil box and removed the ugly growth with a single, satisfying snip. Who was it that told me this? I can't remember. If you're reading this, know that you're my hero.

Found this on Wikimedia. The file name is "Grey Tail". Seems accurate.

Image by Bmuzyka via Wikimedia Commons

If we're going to rule rat-tails unexceptable, which we are, then it's only fair to offer alternatives. What are some acceptable men's hairstyles? Here's a list.

  • Afro
  • Crew cut
  • Duck's ass
  • The Ceasar
  • Curtains
  • Fauxhawk
  • Flattop
  • Hi-top fade
  • Ivy League (aka a Harvard Clip or Princeton)
  • Jheri curl
  • Moptop
  • Payot (note: must be an Orthodox Jew)
  • Pompadour
  • Psychobilly Wedge
  • Quiff
  • Regular haircut (Yep, that's an official hairstyle. I recommend it.)
  • Shape-Up
  • Surfer hair
  • Undercut
Guess what? That's almost every male hairstyle on this list, excluding mullets, mohawks and rat-tails. So, I'm not picky. Heck, even mullets work sometimes. If you're Canadian or a hick, I say go for it. Same goes for mohawks, actually. Are you in a band? Sure, go ahead and get a mohawk. Just avoid the rat-tail! I repeat: AVOID THE RAT-TAIL! Don't let Shia LaBeouf tell you what to think. It's a trap. A rat trap. 

The Duck's Ass

Image by Charlesfrederickworth via Wikimedia Commons

Also, the rat-tail renaissance begs the question: what does this mean for us ladies? Are feathered bangs are on their way back too? Let's hope not. 

OK, gotta finish packing. This time tomorrow, I'll be in Seattle!


P.S. 'LYMI' stands for 'Love ya, mean it!' Just FYI.

P.P.S. 'FYI' stand for 'For your information'.

P.P.P.S. 'P.S.' stands for 'Postscript'.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


For the past few days I've been experiencing heartburn.

I know, how poetic.

It all started when a bit of San Pellegrino lemon soda went down the wrong tube. That, combined with a very unhealthy stretch of takeaway curries, Dominoes pizza and afternoon flat whites, has only made it worse.

Indigestion. I'm a person with indigestion. Just proves that you never know what life is going to throw at you.

Speaking of achy hearts and life, today I started to say goodbye to Edinburgh. I've said goodbye to all of my friends; now it's time to bid farewell to the city itself.

This morning Char, William, Freddie, Elsie and I walked up Calton Hill. We endured the freezing winds—both F and E with runny noses—and looked out across Leith and the Firth of Forth.

The scene was painted in typical Edinburgh grey. Grey buildings. Grey clouds. Grey ocean. Edinburgh wears grey well. But I'm excited to return to the Emerald City.

Someone needs a haircut.
Only a month until this crew is back in sunny Sea-town too. 

This evening I went for a brief run around the Meadows, stopping at the Quartermile Sainsbury's to buy some antacids. From there I walked the familiar route home across Forrest Road, past Greyfriars Bobby on George IV bridge and along Victoria Terrace to our flat on Upper Bow.

"Take it all in!" I told myself.

Now I'm sitting on the couch typing this, and I can feel the sweat drying on my back. I better get in the shower before the bacne kicks in.

Your pal,

P.S. I'm pretty sure these heartburn tablets are just dried squares of toothpaste.

P.P.S. Andy and I starting a new show tonight. 'The Jinx'—and HBO miniseries. I've heard it's good. I'll let you know.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


I've got ten minutes to write this. Haven't left it this late since I started my Year-28 Challenge all those moons ago.

No time for chitchat. Let's dive straight in. Tonight's post is all about change. Not change in the Obama sense, but in the coins / currency / cash money sense.

A few stories about change.

1. Today I was faced with the mind-numbing task of separating a large tub of miscellaneous change into pounds, euro cents and US coins. It was terrible! Turns out, pennies look the same in every currency. Those were the hardest. You'd be surprised how similar the Queen and Abe Lincoln look. Not only was the sorting tedious, but it made my neck sore and my hands smell like metal.

2. One time in college I was walking to the grocery store to use the Coinstar machine when a homeless man sitting on the curb asked me if I could spare any change. Reflexively, I said no. But I was holding a jar full of quarters, dimes and nickels! He must have thought, "What a lying biznatch."

3. Get this. At the HSBC on Princes Street you can throw all your change into a machine and it goes straight into your bank account. Unlike Coinstar, it doesn't take a percentage of your money. When I first discovered this, I was in awe. I've since heard that some Seattle-area banks have these machines now too. Sorry, Coinstar—you're no longer needed. You've been pushed out of the robot coin-counting market. I'll see you in hell.

That's it. 11:59pm. I've done it!


P.S. OK, now for some change in the Obama sense. Tuesday marks the start of a major life change—moving back to America! Tonight I said goodbye to my good friends Igor, Jakub and Kaley. They're tied with Danny Glover as some of the finest people I've ever met. If anything were to have kept me in Edinburgh, it would have been them. Until we meet again, Divas!

Friday, March 13, 2015

From the Archives, Edition 5

Char and I just did our US taxes. It was HELL. Even though we don't have to pay anything because we pay our taxes in the UK, we still have to file in the US. It's sooooooo lame.

All of this is to say, it's definitely a 'From the Archives' night.

Found this lil' gem hiding in among the unlisted videos on my YouTube channel. Note how English Andy sounds. I never thought living in Scotland with an American really had much of an effect on his accent, but I guess I was wrong!

Also, I blame my cousins Conor and Spencer for giving me a complex about my upturned pig nose. They would always point it out and I still try to "reshape" it every night before bed!


Thursday, March 12, 2015

I could do that!

Do you ever have the moments when you think, "Wait a second. I could do that!"

It happens when products, services or people don't warrant their success. Or when they don't quite cut the mustard.

And I'm not talking about things like the Kardashians. You can argue about whether they deserve to be famous, but you can't argue "Hey, I could do that!" You couldn't do that. Why not? Well, you're not a set of attractive, Armenian-American siblings who grew up in Beverly Hills, whose dad was O.J. Simpson's defense lawyer and whose stepdad is a two-time gold-medal-winning Olympian. You also aren't willing to do the nasty with Brandy's brother and film it.

You might not rate the Kardashians, but you couldn't replace them. The only people who are qualified to be the Kardashians are the Kardashians.

What I'm talking about is when you genuinely could do a better job than the person doing it or create a superior product than what's out there.

Here's a handful of "I could do that" epiphanies I've had recently and in the past:

  • Write jokes for the Oscars. I wouldn't be the best, but I'd be better than whoever put together that briefcase bit for NPH. 
  • Produce a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills recap podcast. Yes, I listen to one. And no, it's not good. Char and I could record our Wednesday phone conversations and it would be way better.
  • Write a Black Eyed Peas song. When the bar is set at listing the days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday...), it would be hard not to improve upon their recent work. 
  • Manage a concessions stand at British sporting events. You know what the food and beverage options are available at an English Premier League match? Meat pie and beer. That's it. As an American, I'm automatically qualified to introduce our friends across the pond to the concept of choices. 
  • Create a delicious dip for chips (crisps) to sell in supermarkets everywhere. I can't take full credit for this one. It's a family recipe, and my aunt Peg Pad Pad is the best at making it. But let me tell you, Padden Family Cream Cheese Dip is the stuff of legends. Secret ingredient? Pickle juice. Sounds gross, but actually tastes delicious. If you thought Tostitos Salsa Con Queso (cheese dip) had the dip market sealed up, you thought wrong. 
  • Write pedicure advertisements displayed in men's restrooms at the airport. OK, this one might seem hyper specific, but just LOOK at the advert Andy snapped a photo of in Edinburgh airport last weekend:

Did you catch that? 

It says: "Pedicures and manicures offer the most effective means of stopping feet looking tramp-like."


Dear airport pedicurists, hire me! My rates are competitive and I can think of at least seven alternatives to "tramp-like". Stanky, for example. You can have that one for free. 

Anyway, where was I? Why did I find myself defending the Kardashians for the millionth time? I promise, I'm not even a huge Kardashian fan. They just happen to come up in discussions a lot.

Probably best to wrap things up now. 

Let me know situations when you've thought "I could do that!"


P.S. I'll admit it. This post is a bit tramp-like. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Antisocial or Introvert?

Last weekend, Andy and I were sitting in an All Bar One at Birmingham International, watching the departures screen push back our flight by 15 minutes every 10 minutes for about 40 minutes straight. We were just about to get the bill, when the man at the table next to us said, “Something’s up with the Flybe flights this afternoon—they’re all getting delayed or cancelled.”

I jumped in with something like, “Yep, it’s crazy!” and went straight back to my cappuccino, avoiding eye contact and angling my body inward, toward Andy.

The man carried on. He was with his wife of 26 years. He had just returned from Copenhagen earlier in the week, where he’d strategically flown in with a different airline than he flew out with. The prices for round-trip journeys were exorbitant, he explained.

Andy chuckled and told a story about how he and his brother had flown to Dublin for the rugby the weekend before, and how his brother’s flight was far more expensive because he was flying from Exeter, not Edinburgh.

Great. Here we go. Think fast, Margaret. Think fast!

I racked my brain for a quick, compelling, exclusive conversation starter that would pull Andy back from the gravitational pull of a friendly stranger. But words escaped me. And then it was too late. They were talking about red cards and the Millennium Stadium and the Scotland team’s naiveté. They were watching iPhone footage of the Haka. This was not good.

I’d lost my window and the worst had happened: we were having a conversation with strangers.

Eventually, I suggested to Andy that we go to the Customer Service Desk and ask for an update on our flight. We said our goodbyes, and I muttered to Andy, “Thank God that’s over!”

He said, “Oh Mog! You are the definition of antisocial! We could have stayed in there and chatted with them and had a lovely time!”

There was no arguing with that. I am antisocial. It’s not good. But it’s also honest. I go back and forth on whether I should try to change or not. I’ve been this way for a while, ever since high school when my friend Connie and I would sit against a white brick wall near the parking lot during lunch, soaking up the sunshine and dreaming of 1:40pm when we’d be freed. It wasn’t as if we didn’t have a place in the cafeteria. We had enough friends. But it was just easier to meet at the wall and not have to bother with discussions about teachers, football games, ASB elections and other topics that reminded us of our imprisonment.

I mean, when am I going to come out of my shell already? HA!

Image by FotoDawg via Wikimedia Commons

When I try to make myself feel better about being antisocial, I decide that I’m an introvert. Yeah, that’s it! Don’t blame me for being antisocial; I’m just an introvert!

However, the truth is that I'm not sure what I am. I've tried to take quizzes online, but I tend to quit halfway through. Introvert or extrovert, one thing's for sure: I'm lazy. 

A lot of people who know me would assume I'm an extrovert. I do love attention. Yesterday's iMovie is proof of that. But I the true test is supposedly as follows:

  • Do you get your energy from spending time alone? You're an introvert.
  • Do you get your energy from spending time with groups? You're an extrovert. 

It doesn't have anything to do with being shy or outgoing. It's about how you recharge. If this is true, then I suppose, if I had to be one or the other, I actually would be an introvert. 

OH SNAP! So, I just took a quiz and guess what?

I'm an AMBIVERT! This is a surprising twist. 

Take the quiz yourself. There are only 12 questions, so it's easy, if not scientifically irrelevant. 

See ya next time, 


P.S. That photo reminds me: some baby tortoises were just born in the Galapagos Islandsthe first in a century! I'm not an animal lover, but for some reason this made me so happy that I shouted "YESSSSSS!" when I read it. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Guess who's back back back, back again gain gain? Grassy's back back back. Tell a friend friend friend.

It's been a while! I don't even remember how to type. I have to keep reminding myself to rest my fingers on 'home row'.

But it feels great to be back in action.

Heck, I even made an iMovie about it.

Guest Blog Week: Review

Thanks to everyone who helped make the first annual Madgespace Guest Blog Week a resounding success. Thanks to the talented guest posters, to my legions of loyal fans and to Char Kay for organising the whole thing.

Every evening I'd get the text from Char saying the next post was ready to go. I'd quickly flip open my laptop, head to the blog and drink in every word. Not only was it amazing to be relieved of my blogging responsibilities for a while, but, dare I say it, it was refreshing to read voices other than my own.

I realised that THIS is what life's all about. Family blogging. OK, no, not family blogging—what I mean is that life is all about creating. Or at least it should be. I'm at my happiest when I'm creating something, be it a homemade Thai curry or a blog post about toilet paper alternatives. I like the challenge, the process and the end result. I also enjoy the creations of others. It's a great way to get to know people and see a different side to them.

Basically, what I'm saying is we should all get together and Mod Podge photos and magazine cut-outs onto an Ikea bookcase. You in?

Life update

OK, so you're dying to know what I've been up to during my week off.

Here's what I've been doing:
  • Getting loads of migraines. Seriously! Char hypothesised that blogging may be the cause, but now I'm thinking it might be the only thing keeping my kopf from exploding.
  • Watching every episode (so far) of HBO's 'Silicon Valley'. I wasn't convinced at first, but the more I watched, the more I liked. 
  • Getting my bowl cut frisked at airport security. I had to go through the body scanner, then afterward the lady said, "And I'll just go ahead and check your hair." She patted me on the head like I was a labrador. 
  • Hanging out with Andy before our FIVE MONTH stint apart. We've been eating lots of Sainsbury's fishcakes and watching The Americans, Better Call Saul and House of Cards. If you still aren't watching The Americans, it's time you take a long look in the mirror and reevaluate your life. The show's great. 

See you tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, 


P.S. If you're not going to produce an iMovie in honour of yourself, then who is? 

Don't hate. Don't wait. Make yourself an iMovie today. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

A visit to the Amazon

This is exciting. Natalie Orenstein, sister-in-law to the stars, is peeling back the curtain on what really goes on in those giant Amazon warehouses. Turns out, DVDs are still a thing! ESCANDALO!!!

Two weeks ago I spent three days working in one of Amazon’s largest warehouses, or as we call them—fulfillment centers. I learned how to do all steps of the fulfillment process—from receiving products from vendors to packing orders onto the outbound trucks. See photographic evidence below.

The overall experience was amazingthey do public tours there, so this writer from Wired magazine was able to capture the experience in detail. Here are a few of the trip highlights from my perspective:

1) A lot of people still buy DVDs. And I mean a lot. I couldn’t believe how many copies of Friends Season 5 I came across. All you have to do is turn on TBS and you can find it. Throw Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Instant Video in the mix and you have all of that on demand as well. But I guess there is something to actually owning the DVD that has still not lost its edge…

2) A desk job it is not. By 10:30 in the morning on my first day, I had already clocked over 13,000 steps on my Fitbit. For comparison, it is now 1:00 in the afternoon, and after rushing from meeting to meeting to picking up my Jimmy Johns from delivery downstairs, I have clocked in a whopping 2,500 steps. Given the start time in the fulfillment center was 7am and I didn’t get going until 9 todaybut still. It is a workout. I spoke to someone who lost 70 pounds in his first three months on the job there.

3) Phoenix is flat. That’s where the fulfillment center is. Even with the pretty desert nighttime sky and warm temperature, I prefer Seattle. Give me rain and mountains any day.
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