Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 450

Don’t sing Happy Birthday in a restaurant in the USA

Yeah, you know the song. That Happy Birthday one we all sing. Apparently, though, if you’re in a restaurant over here you better not sing it!

What? You can’t sing Happy Birthday in a restaurant? Really?!

A friend told me that at some restaurant chains the waiters and waitresses came out singing and clapping some weird concoction of a Happy Birthday song when they bring the birthday cake for the birthday recipient. The song was like a chant, and a really bad tune.

Why? Cos the song is protected by COPYRIGHT! They are legally not allowed to sing it in public, and neither are you. Else it’s off to jail, folks.

Yes, we can’t sing Happy Birthday in public, and here’s the explanation I found.

And these are the replacement songs that are sung on TV to avoid the Happy Birthday cops coming round and sending you off to a state penitentiary.

California

Lots of people are asking where we are going in CA, and here are the answers…

*Redondo Beach
*LA
*San Diego
*Santa Monica
*Carmel
*San Francisco

And others stops on the way round.

Looking forward to the beaches here :)

Looking forward to the beaches here :)

Things I didn’t know about California but now do…

1. The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War. The U.S. paid Mexico $15 million for war damages. In turn, Mexico ceded nearly half of its territory, including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and parts of Colorado, Nevada, and Utah.

2. California was originally known as the Bear State. As California boomed—and the bear population was wiped out—it became the Golden State.

3. The grizzly bear on California’s current state flag is a tribute to Monarch, the last wild California grizzly bear. In 1899, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst paid a reporter named Allen Kelley to capture the animal. Monarch was sent to San Francisco, where he lived at Woodward’s Garden and then Golden Gate Park. He was a star attraction until his death in 1911. The last reported sighting of a wild California grizzly bear was in 1924.

4. California is the only state that’s hosted both the Summer and Winter Olympics.

5. Most of the U.S. athletes competing in the 2012 London Olympics came from California. But take that with a grain of salt—one out of every eight Americans is from California.

6. The first step to getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: Work in entertainment. The second: Pay a $30,000 nomination fee. Living celebrities are required to appear at their star’s unveiling. (Barbra Streisand is the only person who got away with missing the event.) All of the Munchkins from The Wizard of Oz—122 adults and 12 children—share one star.

One more night of California Dreaming to go and then it’s California Reality!

:)

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 449

The Mystery Van

This RV camper thing below will be our home in California for a few nights next week. I am searching for public conveniences on the map :) .

Rest assured, we will also be staying in hotels because I am a Desperate Housewife who needs comforts too.

Scooby snacks, anyone?

Scooby snacks, anyone?

I can’t wait to fall in love with California!

Yey!

Yey!

Expat problems

I can’t remember the conversation word for word as it was the middle of the night, but this happened last night….

‘Hi darling.’
‘Uhhhh, hi mum.’
‘What time is it there?’
‘3am.’
‘Are you in California yet?’
‘No. Monday.’
‘Oh, I messed up a bit with timings, didn’t I?’
‘Yes. We’re still five hours behind you, Maryland time.’
‘Oh, sorry.’
‘Can we have this conversation in, like, six hours?’
‘Yes, sorry darling. Oopsie!’

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 448

Gobsmacked

There was this little story on a Washington radio station yesterday involving British boy band One Direction, all about how this British girl, who couldn’t talk, was blown a kiss by member Harry Styles and then, apparently, she could talk again.

You can read it here, if you have nothing better to do.

The kiss of a British pop star....

The kiss of a British pop star….

I’m not really bothered by the story, but I do like this bit of the reporting:

‘Her mom [they mean 'mum', obviously], pronounced herself “gobsmacked” – British for “shocked” – by the restoration of her daughter’s voice.’

Love that they had to explain ‘gobsmacked’. :)

Faucet / tap

About two years ago, when I first arrived in the USA, I was at an American friend’s home and she was washing stuff in her sink (that sounds like we had a really boring time, but I think she was actually washing up the extensive amount of wine glasses we had been using….). Anyway, she used her kitchen sink tap in a way I had not seen before.

She pulled it out of its holder and pressed a button to spray around the sink. I was suitably impressed by this little gadget and wondered why we didn’t have one in our American house. They are genius. (Apparently, they do have these in fancy new kitchens in the UK, btw.)

Well, roll on two years, because it appears we do have such a ta (or ‘faucet’) and I’ve only just found out! It’s been there all the time I’ve lived in this house and I’ve just never bothered to look for it or use it.

Ain’t that something!

Marvellous

Marvellous

California

West Coast trip – it’s happening soon!

Hell yeah!

Hell yeah!

A lot of folks tell me I’ll adore the West Coast. I hope that’s true! :)

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 447

Don’t park on the wrong side of the road

Oooh, us Brits do get in wrong in America-land sometimes.

Like parking. In the UK, if you spot a cheeky parking space on the opposite side of the road, there ain’t nothing wrong with crossing over and nipping into that spot.

Not so where I live, and I’m guessing this might be an unspoken rule across the USA. Basically, don’t park facing oncoming traffic. No, really don’t. Cos you get a lot of funny looks.

Spot that dude who did it wrong!

Spot that dude who did it wrong!

Public transport where I live

In Columbia a while back this dude James Rouse, who invented the place, made lots of ‘villages’ and parks and wot not, and very super it is too. BUT, my BIG gripe about living in Columbia is that the public transport completely and utterly sucks.

Oh, there are buses apparently from the Mall to the other shopping centres and the supermarket, but they are infrequent and under utilised. When this place is so very good at doing school buses (and we’re defo not in the UK), how can it have such a shocking lack of public transport when it seeks to encourage community and connection?

If I was 15 and lived here, I’d be on my bike all the blimmin’ time pedalling about from place to place, but that would take effing forever. So, here teenagers rely on their parents to ferry them about. No thank you. And older folks? I know they have Neighbor Ride and stuff, but what about bus stops and getting on the bus? When did that cease to be something that people did, or has it just never been a thing here? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bus stop here in Columbia, now I think about it….

When I was 15 and living in Bath, UK, I could pop on the bus or train and go into town, to another town or village or to the city with ease, or go to the docs, or to my friend’s house (this is actually a lie, because it was usually to my boyfriend’s house ;) ). I had freedom and independence.

When we have visitors there is no way of saying ‘Oh hop on the bus whilst I’m at work, and we’ll meet for coffee in Ellicott City.’ Nope, cos they have to get a hire car and a sat nav (GPS) and drive everywhere. I once tried to work out a route for my mother, who was staying, to meet me after work and it was so flipping complicate and inconvenient for her to get on the bus, we thought ‘sod that for a game of soldiers’ and that was that little expedition thwarted. It’s totes frustrating. Everyone has to drive everywhere here. Sigh.

Someone recently said to me that they didn’t want public transport in Columbia, or to or from Columbia to either Baltimore or Washington, because it would encourage the riff-raff to travel and cause problems…..

P.S. I was going to add in a picture of a bus in Columbia, but fittingly, I couldn’t find one ;)

So here is a picture of a British bus and bus stop.

A bus and a bus stop creating public transportation - it's marvellous!

A bus and a bus stop creating public transportation – its marvellous!

Maternity and paternity stuff

The other bit of thingymabob that’s bothering me in the USA this week is maternity and paternity leave and how bleedin’ tight the American system is for new mothers and fathers.

My preggers American friend was telling me she only gets 12 weeks. I wasn’t even ready to get out my PJs after 12 weeks, let alone go back to work (though by 8 months I was pretty desperate to get back to work, have a wee by myself in peace and embark on grown up conversations again).

I was a bit embarrassed to tell her that I had 8 to 9 months leave, and that I could have had a year if I had chosen to….. and let’s not get started on paternity leave in the UK, which is infinitely better than what’s on offer in the USA, nor reflect on how amazeballs they are in Scandinavia with their whole combined parental leave oojamaflip.

In the USA, which benefits are available depends very much on which state you live in. A parenting site I found says that: ‘Actual paid “maternity leave” — while the norm in almost all countries — is unusual in the United States, although some enlightened companies do offer new parents paid time off, up to six weeks in some cases. Most likely, you’ll use a combination of short-term disability (STD), sick leave, vacation, personal days, and unpaid family leave during your time away from work.’

And yes, you read that correctly. Once you’ve had your baby you can get an STD ;)

;)

;)

(However, not all European countries get it right – in Austria they make you stop work at 7 months pregnant and one blogging chums tells me that her poor pregnant neighbour is bored witless and can’t understand why she has to stop working.)

Anyhow, that one thing I will say is that I am v v v v v glad that I am not going to get preggers here in America, because I think the maternity situation is archaic and pretty shocking. I’m sure it’s all about money etc, but for a country that places a great deal of emphasis on family values, I think the maternity leave sucks. Fact.

Sort it out, America-land.

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 446

State laws

As I mentioned in my last blog, I get a little confuddled by state laws and how different they all are.

In fact, someone mentioned to me only last week that America was just a big place with lots of different countries (so, like, er, Europe) that call themselves states, and that the only thing that’s united about it is its love of fast food restaurants and all the states watch the same ‘crap TV’. Say what you will about that comment.

Anyhoo, take a look at some of the comments by AMERICANS on the previous blog. ‘Tis interesting folks!

What British People Know About American, and vice-versa

A recent Buzzfeed poll in the UK asked six questions of their staff about America.

These were the questions:

1) Who is the current vice president of the United States?
2) Name three signatories of the Declaration of Independence.
3) Name any two of the five Great Lakes.
4) Identify a state from its outline.
5) What is a nickel?
6) Name an NHL team.

And these are the very amusing answers…. (clue: we know not that much at all! ;) )

So, I decided to ask some questions of American folks in the same vein. British folk – have a pop too, if you wish!

Take a butchers at these Qs and post your replies on the blog or at the Facebook page, or email me! I’ll get the answers and responses out next week. Should be a laugh!

What American People Know About Britain – The Quiz

1) Who is the current Deputy Prime Minister of the UK?
2) By whom and where was the Magna Carta sealed?
3) Name any two of the lakes in the Lake District.
4) Identify this county from its outline.

Which county?

Which county?


5) What is a quid?
6) Name a team from the Football League First Division.

Have fun!

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 445

Fireworks/guns

In my state I can’t buy fireworks. Cos it’s illegal.
But, if I want to, I can by a shotgun or a hunting rifle without getting fingerprinted and licensed.

My friends who do buy fireworks for 4 July head across the state line to Pennsylvania and Virginia (yes, it’s just like the Dukes of Hazzard, but there is no Boss Hogg and Rosco P Coltrane chasing you) and illegally transport them over the state line. Oooer.

So, why are fireworks banned in Maryland? The local paper says that ‘Over the years, mishaps involving fireworks have caused so many problems that the use of fireworks in Maryland is strictly regulated. While there are probably those who may consider laws governing the sale and use of fireworks to be a bit excessive, those laws are clearly intended to protect you (sometimes even from yourself!) and those around you.’

Anyway, firework and gun laws differ in all the other states too. Like, in Arkansas (I still have to make sure I pronounce that like ‘saw’ as the end and not ‘sass’ ;) ) you can openly carry a firearm in public, although there is debate about whether this should continue.

That would totally freak me out if I was walking along the street....

That would totally freak me out if I was walking along the street….

The whole thing with the different state laws still fascinates me. Like, when we go to New Orleans we’ll be able to walk along the streets with our drinks in our hands. But, here in far more conservative Maryland, even if we buy a bottle of wine from a liquor store, it has to be concealed in a brown paper bag.

And let’s not start on the amount of vodka that is concealed in soda bottles across the community pools here in Columbia…. ;)

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Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 444

Things Brits miss

There was a list published recently about things Brits in the USA miss. To be honest, I don’t miss that much from this list.

BUT….there is one thing I really, really miss whilst I live in here in the USA.

British deodorant. All the USA ones either:

a) don’t stop ya smelling (and I know, cos I a fitness instructor);
b) give me an allergic reaction;
c) leave loadsa stainage on your clothes.

This has perturbed me muchly since I have been here, and thus it falls on to every visitor who asks what they can bring from the UK to put one thing on their list: Dove Invisible Dry Deodorant.

This is all I crave!

This is all I crave!

Oh, I can get it here if I order if off Amazon and pay extortionate amounts, but, you know, it’s the principle.

In fact, I am sooo nearly running out, and it’s four weeks till my parents come with their suitcases stashed with it all, that I had to email a British friend who lives here in the USA and who has been back for the Glastonbury Festival, to stop off at Boots (or Superdrug, though preferably Boots because I am a bit snobby like that – oops, sorry brother of mine who works for the international conglomerate what owns Superdrug) and get me some.

Anyway, suffice to say that the need to get some Dove Invisible Dry under my pits in this Sweaty Betty East Coast USA weather is URGENT. ;)

Crossing the road signals

When you cross the road in the USA there is generally a RED HAND and a WHITE WALKER (not Games of Thrones stylie, I hasten to add ;) ) and flashing numbers (you literally have 15 seconds to cross the road – less if you’re in New York, because they are very, very busy there and everyone is in a right old hurry all the flippin’ time).

What's that? Now I'm really confused!

What’s that? Now I’m really confused!

However, I still say ‘Wait for the green man‘ cos of that dude that we have at crossings in the UK.

Funny that.

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