X Marks the Brits

google images x“You know, you Americans say we Brits are so cold, but YOU’RE the cold ones.”

This was coming out of the mouth of Jon, the live-in landlord who despite dust and dirt everywhere, would freak out and scream if there were drops of water on the counter near the sink.

He continued. “You never put an x at the end of your texts.”

I wasn’t following.

“Well an x is a kiss, right?”

Yea and xoxo means kisses and hugs, so?

“You never write it at the end of your text.”

In time, I came to see that Brits do indeed put an x at the end of their texts. No matter what the person is writing about, there’s the little x. “I’m gonna stay home tonight, but thanks for the invite. x.” “Please pick up some milk. x.” “You’re a flipping cunt. x.”

When I lived in Italy, Italians wrote “baci”, which like the chocolate, means kisses.And I don’t write “baci” or “kisses “or  an “x” and I don’t write flipping “dry hump”, either.

This meant there was a flaw in The American Character?  I really hate representing the reputation of an entire nation. Besides, it’s just a letter: x.

And why, anyway, does an x represent a kiss? An “o” for a hug I can understand, I mean visually, you can get that – my arms around you, yours around me – an “o” more or less. But what kind of person makes their lips into an x – even if I am kissing you and you’re kissing me, where’s the flipping “x”? I’m sitting here in front of my computer, looking at a mirror and trying to make my lips looks like an x. The closet thing I can do is a bit of a fish mouth.

Ok. Time to google. Here’s what Wikipedia says: “The common custom of placing “X” on envelopes, notes and at the bottom of letters to mean kisses dates back to the Middle Ages, when a Christian cross was drawn on documents or letters to mean sincerity, faith, and honesty. A kiss was then placed upon the cross, by the signer as a display of their sworn oath.”

Texting “Meet you outside of Jubilee Library 4pm” isn’t something I feel the need to swear an oath by. If I’m gonna swear an oath at the end of the text, it would probably be more like, “Meet you outside of Jubilee Library 4pm, asshole.”

And yet, one does adapt so that if I look thru my texts, increasingly, I have come to, in fact, include an x at the end of texts.

I went back to google to see if others had my questions. On quora.com, a website that is like the university-educated version of Yahoo Answers, someone responded to the question, “What does it mean when British people put an X at the end of text messages or emails?” with:

“No X = for a person you know you will not get an X back from / if you are annoyed with someone / a guy you don’t really know
X = standard for any friend / a girl you don’t really know
XX = a girl you like
XXX+ = flirting / playing a game with someone / going overboard

Two funny caveats of this are;
1. Some people really do take notice of the amount of Xs they are getting. If you send XX to a girl, you may get XXX back, but if you drop back down to an X after, you almost certainly will not get XXX back again
2. People can get offended if you provide no Xs, unless you are renowned for being a no-Xer”

Best be careful or one might become “renowned.” Who knew.

And really, it’s supposed to be a little x, however for me and my iPhone, that’s extra work. If I end my sentence with a grammatically correct period, that damn auto corrector will make that x capital. So do you go back and delete the capital x and put in a small case x? I’m not saying I have answers… all I have are questions.

Cuz I don’t know.

I’m inquiring.

Go ahead, look at your texts. Isn’t there an x at the end? And when there isn’t doesn’t it feel a bit … off?  And if the other person usually ends with 2 x’s but this time wrote only one, should you read into that? I kinda doubt it but what do I know, Dumbass American that I am. x

google x

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David Sedaris Creates Everyday Aventure

I’ve been following his writing career for a good more than a decade. He’ll make me laugh — almost pee-in-the-pants laugh — and then suddenly, I have to catch my breath because he’s pondered a truth so poignant that it’s hard to breathe.

So when I find out he’s on a book tour (his fans are so numerous and devoted that he   reads in music auditoriums, not bookstores) and that one stop will be in Bexhill on Sea, an hours’ train ride, I know I’m going.

But the tickets sell out. In two days. 1500 seats to see a guy read.

Doesn’t matter. I take time off from my work-study job at Bikram in the Lanes and DECLARE I will find someone with an extra ticket to sell. I will WILL it to happen.

Wear my cutest outfit. (the guy’s as gay as a Christmas in Las Vegas but I want to dress up.) Train problems, we are diverted to Lewes. Tight on time. Shit! Oh well, whatever happens, happens. Let’s make the best of it. Make friends with a new philosophy grad from University of Brighton named Padraig Forham. Then an Indian man in a tuxedo complete with bow tie (he’s going to a “ball”!), named Abdul comes to sit with us and is forced to be friends with us. We play Twenty Questions about what’s Abdul’s job (Solicitor). By the time the train comes, jam-packs us in and starts moving, we rope in a Brit architect who regales us his adventures in Norway where he works a lot. (“Their language is a lot of sounds. Thank God they speak English.”)

And I think about how damn nice the Brits are.

We all part ways with some phone exchanges (the lawyer has a crush on the philosopher, pretty sure) and as I get out of the station of this new town, Bexhill on Sea, I start asking whoever is in ear’s length where the De La Warr Pavillion is because I’m going to see David Sedaris and I don’t have a ticket.

“I have an extra ticket!,” pipes up the most fabulous person is the world because she has an extra ticket to David Sedaris.

My eyes pop open, I ask her name, she tells me Leah and I hug her and tell her I love her! We scurry over to the venue — THERE’S NO ONE SELLING A TICKET OUTSIDE! LEAH ROCKS! — and that’s when I see Him. He’s sitting at a table, signing a book and chatting with a fan. He’s famous for staying hours and hours signing books and chatting with people. But this is BEFORE the show!  It’s nearly time however, so we buy drinks (when in Rome… and when in England), get to our seats and I send an email to my buddy, Lynn in San Francisco, that I got in.

He comes out wearing shorts and says, “I’m wearing shorts.” He chats with us, reads one amazing story after another, drinks a lot of water. I think it was four stories and then diary entries. He tells us little bits in between. He’s so genuine — he has an unusual, some might say odd or even eccentric way of looking at the world but his DNA is just genuine. And damn funny.

But who cares, right? Why am I writing this? Why might anyone care to read this blog post. I don’t know. But I haven’t written in a long time because life has been rough, rough, rough and — I don’t know — because I was downhearted, depressed, lonely, have gone through moments where I was actually feeling like life wasn’t worth living. I’ve had moments of true sadness alongside moments of joy when I could see that Brighton is a fantastic place to be! A very emotional time and I haven’t written any of it down. And maybe if even one of my 22 bog followers is still reading and thinking, Shit This is Boring — I DON’T CARE. And I have been caring way too much about what other people think and somehow watching a man tell a story about how how he fed his tumour (benign) to an elderly snapping turtle in a canal in South Carolina, made me not care very much about what others think. Because life is just so utterly delightful and beautiful even in the tiniest details.

That’s all.

Talking Tits

Bit redundant, no? Aren't all tits great?

Bit redundant, no? Aren’t all tits great?

Here in England, people are into their gardens and birds! It’s not that I’ve never been into birds, it’s just that there are so many. I find it a bit overwhelming. So let’s just talk about tits. Gonna use Wikipedia to learn about tits.

According to Wikipedia, “tits can be found in most of Europe, Asia, North America and Africa.” No tits in Australia or Greenland? What’s their definition of tits, I wonder. Are they calling them something else if they’re too small? Ok, let’s move on.

Wiki adds, “Tits are generally insectivores that consume a wide range of small insects and other invertebrates, particularly small defoliating caterpillars.” Tits eat insects! Who knew!  So it’s not just men that the quickest way is through the stomache! Science is fascinating.

“Tits have a variety of methods for attracting mates, primarily through their intricate, bouncing mating dance,” the article goes on to say. So tits bounce to attract attention. That isn’t entirely surprising. They are pretty lively.

According to Wikipedia: “Many African tit species are cooperative breeders.” Seems to me that all tits cooperate with breeding.

One last interesting bit about tits: “Only the blue tit is typically polygynous: all other species are generally monogamous.”

Slut

Slut

I live to learn and I think I speak for you all.

p.s. needed a bit of silly outrageous fun today, what with writing/sending academic cv’s all week. job hunting is a blast — so not!

 

 

 

 

On Hippies, Hoops and Happiness

hula-hooping

In keeping with my this year’s mantra (see previous post), “Take Care of Your (effing) Self” I signed up for a hula hoop class. Or, a-hem, for those of us “in the know”, Hoop class.

You cannot imagine how much fun it is. Or what damn exercise. I do feel a six-pack a-coming! Well,let’s not exaggerate. Maybe one can.

And it is SO NOT just about swinging that colourful circle of plastic around your middle. Oh no, my friends. There are tricks galore. None of which I can truly yet do, still working on swinging that colourful circle of plastic around my middle. However, check out Edo from Cyprus:

I met Edo at a drop-in circus tricks practice (hoop, poi, swords, tight-rope!!). I was happy just keeping my colourful circle of plastic swinging somewhere around my middle and there’s this blue-haired hippie with matching blue sweatshirt so to start a conversation I said, “So do you change the color of you hair everytime you change your top?” He gave me a shy smile and could barely look me in the eye.

He’s from Cyrpus and moved to Brighton one week before.

“I was the only person on the island who hooped.”

How did he learn?

“Youtube!!”

Brighton has a very established, “hooping community.” (OMIGOD I LOVE LIVING SOMEWHERE THAT HAS ANY FLIPPING KIND OF HOOPING COMMUNITY!!!!). So I asked him if that was why he moved to Brighton:

“Well,” the blue-haired 60s Cypriot throwback responded, “that’s one of the reasons.”

Then there’s Nick. He is one of the organisers of CircusSeen and he oversees these Friday evening open practices (what do YOU do on friday night???). Check him out in the video below! I have never even seen those little do-dads that he’s playing with!! They’re called something like Figure Eight Whatchamacallits. Ok so I don’t remember the name. But when you see them. you ain’t gonna forget them!

These colorful characters with their piercings and hanging pants and dreadlocks and tie-dyes were so kind and sweet and HAPPY.

And that’s what I needed… Hippies, Hoops and Happiness.

Mantras Not Resolutions

new-years-resolution-list

Every year I take on a “mantra.”

Instead of a long list of resolutions that are destined to fail (I’m gonna lose 10 pounds, eat healthier and stop stalking the cute guy on the bus), I focus on a slogan, a guiding principle — in short, a mantra. In years past, I had “Slow (the F) Down” or “Get It (G-ddamn) Done.” (The words in parentheses are just for my thoughts. There’s something fun yet firm about a well-placed expletive. I didn’t tell other people about those words. Until now, that is.)

Sometimes the mantra was silly: “Be Like a Duck and Let Things Slide Off Your Back.” (That was less successful — too long. I forgot most of it by March instead just remembering the “Be Like a Duck” part with not very pretty consequences.)

finally learned how to swim at least

At least I finally learned to swim.

One year was a bit unseemly: “Get Rid of the Old (Crusty) Underwear.” Meaning, stop hanging on to shit you don’t need: crappy stuff goes in the garbage and crappy friends — show them the door! (Please recall: words in parens — here, “Crusty” — are for my thoughts only. I wouldn’t tell that to people. Well, like I said, until now.)

And the rule is: it needs to be an affirmative statement. It’s something you DO want to do. No negatives in the sentence — no “Don’t Be Mean” or “Quit Complaining.” Turn those into “Smile at Everyone” and “Appreciate the World.” The Lady in Pink makes this clear:

a better slogan (mantra) would be... well, actually Take Care of Yourself!

A better slogan (mantra) might be Keep It Healthy!

And the second rule is, I don’t think about the picking of The Mantra too much, I just sort of “discover” it. Let it come to me.

However, this year for Xmas/New Year’s, I was in my mom’s tiny home town in southern Italy — a place not known for keeping up with the times.

At 5pm after siesta, the men gather in the piazza to hang out, smoke play cards and talk about who'd dies recently.

At 5pm after siesta, the men gather in the piazza to hang out, smoke play cards and talk about who’s died recently.

And so, I was overloaded on too many kissing-my-cheeks-twice relatives, bored by the constant hum of bad Italian television and screaming conversation (that’s just how they talk) and over-indulged in amazing food. It broke my brain. The mantra was not only undiscovered but completely forgotten.

Until…. I got a message from a friend I adore and haven’t seen in years. She wrote, “So what’s your Mantra for 2015? I LOVE that you do that!” I didn’t even know she knew about my quirky mantra thing. At the VERY moment that the message came, I’d been feeling bad about eating pasta for both lunch and dinner and it just came to me: “Take Care of Yourself” (I might need to adjust that to “Take Care of Yourself (Asshole).” )

Silliness aside, a mantra is more powerful rather than a list of resolutions that you HAVE TO do. Because those remind you of your failures, whereas, a Mantra reminds you of who you declare yourself to be. Who you are is who you SAY you are. Train your brain to be your best self.

Wonder-Woman-Flying

Wonder Woman and the Golden Lasso of Truth! She’s cool, she cares and she obviously takes care of herself! What might her mantra be?

Ok so… pick a mantra, from the list below and/or write in comments and then TAKE IT (THE F) ON!!!!!

 

 

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! We have a table, We have a table! Hallelujah….

IMG_5540

that’s a table under there!!!

To the tune of Hallelujah, please:

“We haaaaaave a table, we haaaaaave a table,
We have a table, a table
We haaaave a taaa-a-a-ble!”

Here, we’ll show you:

As I’ve expressed here and here, it’s a sad day when one does not have a table. And now I sit here AT THE TABLE with my cappuccino. (Moving to England ain’t changing that, oh no, nuh-uh — got me a mokka, a foam maker and I am ready to go to Timbuktu if needs be. Don’t try to come between me and my cappuccino.)

The landlord finally borrowed a table from his brother. I think he broke down after seeing us night after night cracking our backs and stretching our necks in the middle of dinner on the living room floor. We would sit hunched over, legs splayed in a V trying to scoop up salad from a plate set in-between our knees, constantly dropping green bits from our mouths. After dinner one night Frank said he had to work hard not to laugh because I looked like the Beast from Beauty and the Beast trying to eat normally. Visual aid below! Go to 0:27.

(Ignore dude speaking in Italian at beginning. No idea what that’s about.)

But Beast I am no more! Hallelujah!

We now have a table but — of course — no placement mats. So for today’s substitute, I’ve picked the “Money” section of the Sunday Times (no, dear New Yorkers, not the New York Times). Headlines include:

“Why it may still be better to give birth in Scandanavia”

“I donated some boots to a charity sale… and bought them back for £15,000”

And complete with a photo with the consigliere whispering into the ear of Marlon Brando as The Godfather, there’s the heading:

“Our savings won’t sleep with the fishes!”

Who says the Brits are so reserved? Drama and sensation amuck at least in the Money section.