Monday, 1 September 2014

LIFE: I Am Blank Because

Book

Remember when I stumbled across that things I am, things i'm not post, well after stumbling in a similar manner over I'm blank over on Little Miss Momma, I thought why the hell not. I'll do this one too. I always find these types of posts a great way of seeing a seek peek into the person behind the blog, so hopefully you might find it a helpful insight into what i'm like outside of the blogging world. 

I'm weird because
  • i've never read/watched anything harry potter related, nor do I intend do, same for twlight
  • i don't have dreams to visit NYC or disney 
  • while i'm britsh, I hate roast dinners ... especially yorkshire puddings ... urgh
  • i hate talking on phones, i'll never answer and I never check my voice mails, so my phone is nearly always on silent
  • apple sarnies are the best, as are cheese and celery sandwiches
  • at a month short of 28, i've never tried or learnt to drive a car
  • i can write backwards - like mirror write, it's hard to explain
  • i grew up being called weird because I could and would cross stitch, but apparently that's super cool these days. funny how things change

I'm a bad friend because
  • i take forever to reply to emails
  • i'm probably too honest and just say what I mean without really thinking
  • i'm a bit ranty

flower

I'm a good friend because
  • whenever I do get around to replying to emails, it'll probably be a pretty long one
  • if you're having a bad day/need advice, i'll just say it how I find it
  • stay true and i'll stick by you - i know only too well about friends dumping me
  • to be honest, i probably could do with working on this ...

I'm sad because
  • you can't get bakewell tarts or fish fingers in america and i've been craving them both all week 
  • bills ... enough said
  • sometimes stock just vanishes aka i loose things too often
  • i've just finished the last bit of chocolate in the house
  • tonight's take out was on the bland side
  • stress and my worry head stop me from doing things
  • i can't go into my garden without being bitten alive
  • neighbours like weed killing through the fence onto my garden
  • sometimes i feel the urge to blog when i have nothing to blog about and i can't remember the idea i had for a blog post while falling asleep last night
  • i had to take down a bird feeder because squirrels literally gnawed it apart

tree

I'm happy because
  • will and grace marathons
  • long weekends with the husband
  • sarah water's new book the paying guests is pretty darn awesome so far
  • people still follow, read and comment on my blog after five years - it still amazes me

I'm excited for
  • hockey season (roll on october)
  • digging my scarves out
  • fall tv seasons restarting (agents of shield i'm looking at you)
  • painting the deck blue 
  • fall leaf colours - we get spoiled in Michigan (you can see some snaps from last year here)
  • planting spring bulbs
  • making the move to more organic/green body and beauty products
  • hanging a christmas wreath on my front door, oh no i mentioned the "c" word ... oops

Why are you blank? I'd love to hear how you'd answer these statements.

Blogger Tricks

Friday, 29 August 2014

TRAVEL: Bay City

BayCity
Friendship Shell, Wenonah Park

Last week we popped oop north to visit Bay City (the one here in Michigan, not Wisconsin) - Joe had a work conference up there so I tagged along, it's a place we visited before so I was more than happy to entertain myself wandering around. Because I was pleasing myself for eight hours I have many a photograph to break down and share but I thought I'd start with the main downtown area and as ever all the little things. 

If you know anything about my adventures while living here in the US I love exploring and finding the side of America that might get a little overlooked if you're just visiting. For me it's all about the faded painted advertisements on walls, the outside stairwells, the old buildings and street names. I love the architecture of 1800's America when all these small towns and cities were being founded and finding their fortunes be it home or business, and with Bay City being founded in 1837 it's my kind of place.

BayCity BayCity
Purple building at N. Water St & 3rd, view towards City Hall and museum 

Bay City is located along the base of the Saginaw Bay just before Lake Huron. Originally known as Lower Saginaw it prosperity was founded upon the deep river waters , much deeper than in Saginaw itself, perfect for all the industries that rely on shipping. By the mid 1860's the city was dooming with the sound and life of shipbuilding, saw mills and lumber - the industrialists in charge made their fortunes and built their mansions many of which are now historical landmarks (more of this homes to come in following posts). But like many a city in the Midwest's Rust Belt and just like here in Detroit, by the 1950's onwards such areas struggled to adapt to the changes both economically and socially, the area lost nearly half it's manufacturing jobs and incomes further decreased.

BayCity DSCF8347Bay City
Garden at 6th St & N. Van Buren St, Trinity Episcopal Church, alleyway along 3rd st. 

Birthplace of singer Madonna, local folklore declares the infamous fictional lumberjack Paul Bunyan was based on Fabian "Joe" Fournier - a fearsome brawler standing 6 foot tall, with the strength of three men and a double row of teeth. You wouldn't want to mess with him on a Friday night would you?! After his murder in 1875 tales and stories began. There are arguments over the origins, of who Paul Bunyan was or may have been, but in 1906 Michigan Oscoda/AuSable Press printed a story about a lumberjack with two sets of teeth - a man echoing the description of Joe Fournier. But who was he really, well who knows but Bay City would like to lay down their claim.

Now Bay City celebrates it's river heritage, street upon street is home to antique malls and it's old buildings still stand proud as their fortunes continue to change.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

LIFE: Biggest Fear(s) as an Expat

FEAR

I'll be the first to admit that I have a fair new fears, anxiety filled moments when it comes to being an expat. Even more so that this for me, is a hard topic to speak about, it reveals what I find to be my weakness, that being an expat isn't always a rosy experience. It's hard for to pin point one fear that troubles me more than other and the fears have certainly changed and no doubt will continue to do so.  So I thought I'd share some of the main worries for the last in the Expat Revelations with Holly - past, every day ones and possible future issues.

Healthcare
Moving from the UK with it's free NHS (well paid with taxes) to the US without any medical coverage was a big fear. Until I was granted my greencard I couldn't be added onto Joe's health insurance coverage. So for the first six months I was running uninsured and wild and dangerous and probably should have wrapped myself up in bubble wrap. That was until I got strep 3 months into uncovered period and I had to go to the urgent care. Without insurance seeing a Dr cost $100 - any treatment and tests just added up that total. Now fast forward and having that health insurance is a big relief, it's still not cheap to visit a Dr or get medication, but it makes it cheaper and something to stress about a little less.

The homeland
Honestly I worry about returning to the UK, even to visit. I haven't returned since I left, I worry, and well know that the UK isn't the same country - politically and socially and I'm not that unworldly girl that left in 2011. People have changed - friends have had babies, got married, people have died and again I'm not that person they use to know (I talk about immigration guilt which somewhat relates to this point more here). Absence changes everyone - yourself and the ones you left behind. Being so use to an American way of life - a life of American pancakes, of having money notes all the same size, American gas prices, of Target and mom n pop diners, being "British" again for whatever crazy reason, even if it's just for a week, is scary.

Of Being The Foreigner 
Being that British girl, that foreigner, of still being an outsider is always a constant fear. It's an insecurity that blankets my life, a fear of never fully belonging in either the US or the UK, like which country is really home. Everyday fears of my accent making me stick out but I also fear completely loosing my East Yorkshire twang, of meeting people, of being misunderstood, humour falling flat, saying, doing the wrong thing.

Paperwork
Visa, greencard paper has been a fear since 2011 but it's one that still comes into play when I have to apply for something new. Go back to April/May of this year and my fear of having to prove my marriage was real. Granted my greencard entitles me to live in the US for ten years, by then I want to have applied and being granted citizenship. But I fear not being able to remember all of the key constitutional points and it's amendments of all the government roles and things. I need to the battle the fear of applying for citizenship (and also what that means on a personal level as no longer being just a British citizenship - although being a Brit I'm granted dual citizenship but still) to stop the constant green card renewal fear.

Fears are something I don't think people speak about on blogs enough and certainly not enough on expat based blogs. It's not wrong to admit any of us has a fear whether big or small, but for some reason admitting you have a fear while being an expat is too real, it's too open about admitting that the expat dream isn't as amazing or as grand as you want everyone to believe.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

BLOGGING: The Writing Process

Bag

Today I'm sharing my unworldly experience when it comes to blogging. After being tagged Kelly who's blog Adventures in Tea and Cake always makes me hungry! I was actually surprised how much these questions got me thinking. As a hobby blogger I don't necessarily really think about my blogging, writing process call it what you will, so it was interesting to take a step back and think through it all. 

What are you working on?
There's always posts in the working on phase and I constantly feel the struggle to try and find my voice, have my personality spilling out the computer screen. But for whatever reason it's so hard for me not to write formally - at least that's how it comes over when I reread my words. Some see the light of day long before others. I have a couple of posts from our short trip to Bay City lined up - historical homes to former train stations. Digging up old photographs for more snapshots, more expat themed posts and room tours. There's even some old Detroit and Pittsburgh posts that have been sleeping in my draft folder that need finishing. They'll get done eventually

How does my work differ from others in the genre?  
Aside from sitting under the lifestyle blog umbrella I don't think my blog necessarily just fits one genre. I'm not a typical expat blogger (I don't get the chance to jet set around the country/world like many in that "niche") but since joining in the expat revelations link up I do like the challenge both myself and the conceptions that expat life is all merry and happy.  

While I might not be a stand out blogger on anyone's reading list, but I do hope to show Michigan and particularly Detroit in a new light. Michigan is never a stand out place on anyone's must visit list when it comes to the US and Detroit is always seen in the wrong light so I love trying to challenge those perceptions. 

I guess I like having my fingers in lots of different pies when it comes to topics and the longer I blog (five years plus now) the more I throw caution to the wind and just share what I want regardless of the stats.

Greetings

Why do I write about what I do?
In short because it's me.

My blog has always reflected my life - the adventures, the everyday, the good and the bad. Life happens first, the blogging comes afterwards. Topics, themes they've always shadowed what's surrounding me - whether it was being in a long distance relationship, getting a visa to being that Yorkshire lass in the US. 

But it's more than that, blogging is just one of my hobbies, the hobbies fit and feed content be it tackling the garden, DIY, collecting vintage compacts or listening to records. I always want to keep this space real, personal and me, and the only way I know how to do that is to share my everyday life and adventures. For me, that's my freedom when it comes to writing. 

How does my writing process work?
In short - things happen first, blog post comes after. I tend to work off and around the photographs as I find them the best way to stimulate the words. For tags, questions or posts about a particular place I often work out of my notebook before I can even think about typing. Jotting down words, emotions, things I need to fit in for me I find that more productive than staring at a screen and hoping the words come to my fingers. 

Like I said before, sometimes a post will get worked out and published within a day, sometimes they sit in draft form for months. I don't like to rush my posts out just because something happened there and then. Sometimes they need curing, they need going over to get the feel just right. Sometimes I have the pictures and not the words to express the emotions behind them. 

As I'm not one big on organisation that's as far as my process as such goes. Blogging fits in around everything else - a spare 30 minutes here, and hour or two on a Sunday as and when. For me, that seems to work best, those are the ways that keep me energized to keep blogging rather than forcing myself.

*               *               *

It seems like everyone has more than likely been linked into this hop by now - but if not, consider yourself tagged. Either way i'd love to know how you get around to writing up those blog posts, while you're at it, i'd love to hear what you love, or even hate (play nice) about this blog of mine!