Monday 31 March 2008

Air(ing) America

A measure of homesickness: I watched Judge Judy on TV yesterday, just so I could hear that accent....
OK, I have no right being homesick here, it could be argued, since at any given time of day, you turn on the TV and (if you have a Freeview box) there is an American show on. At the same time as Judge Judy, I could have also picked The Dog Whisperer, Scrubs or The Simpsons.
But I guess it's that no-nonsense New Yorkness about Judy Scheindlin that I miss. My husband says she reminds him of the woman who married us in New York.

(photo of City Hall © Robin Gillett)

Driving Britain

In less than two months I will have been living here (Scotland) for one whole year. Which means I have to get cracking on applying for a provisional GB licence. (If one waits until 12 months have passed, then there's a lot more bureaucracy to deal with, and apparently a driving test is involved. Eek.)

Seems I have to go down to a Post Office® (the ® is still so shocking to me--I cannot get over the fact that Britain privatized/privatised their postal service) and pick up form D1 of the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency; alternatively I can apply online. Horrifyingly, I will have to surrender my New York license/licence. I really like that picture. Plus, applying costs 45 pounds! That's 90 dollars!

As an aside, peeking at New York State's DMV website, I got a strange sensation seeing the official writing at the top: David A. Paterson, Governor, David J. Swarts, Commissioner. It has been weird watching that drama unfold from over here, via the Jon Stewart show and the New York Times.... Yes, I read the NYT online every day, in addition to getting my news via the BBC (mostly Radio 4). I don't often read the papers here, too polarized. Polarised. Anyway, that's what I say, but it's really because I'm still slightly homesick. NYT is my way of staying anchored. More on that later.

Cheerio and happy left-side motoring!

(Photo © me)

The creator of this website/blog is a girl

And she's psyched that Anthropologie now ships to the U.K. Unfortunately, they don't seem to have a "sale" area for overseas shoppers. Still, nice to know I can find my favorite bowls again (I love these though they always crack).

Friday 28 March 2008

What happened to my brain?!

One of the reasons I started this blog was to try to assemble all my random bits of information on settling in to a new life in a strange country--specifically as an American in the U.K., more precisely Scotland--so as to help others in a similar position. As an immigrant (is that what I am, really? I'll explore that later on), it helps to have some guideposts; or, think of me as a sort of flashlight, shining the way toward obtaining a visa, shipping your stuff, or flying with your pet.

Anyway, today's post was going to be all about how to figure out how to vote via absentee ballot. In researching and getting together a bunch of handy links, I came to realize that I have missed the deadline to vote in the Presidential Primary by more than two months. Somehow I thought I'd have time, since the Democratic Primary is stretching on and on. I feel like such an ass.

Assness aside, links for finding out how to apply for a ballot are here and below (as well as on the right). At least I took the opportunity today to join Democrats Abroad. It's all about community.
2008 Absentee Voting Information for Americans Abroad
Federal Voting Assistance Program
Vote From Abroad
I misssed the party, yet again:'Democrats Abroad Vote in London'
Democrats Abroad
There's a Republicans Abroad too, but if you want that one you're on your own.

Wednesday 26 March 2008

Day One

So the first post on this blog will be about something that came in the mail today from the IRS (actually my mom sent it on to me because the IRS doesn't know where I am yet--ha!): my Economic Stimulus Payment Notice.

What I want to know is, how is sending everybody a few hundred dollars going to stimulate the U.S. economy? Or anyone's economy? Well, it'll be enough to buy a new iPhone, or perhaps it'll cover two weeks' worth of a mortgage payment for some people. Yay. Now, what was that pesky U.S. deficit up to? Oh yeah: $9 trillion, according to these authors.

But, silly me, of course I know why this was done: Bush is hoping to leave office on a high note. Unbelievable. What an insult to the 4,000 servicepeople he sent to die since mailing out $300 checks the first time, in the summer of 2001. I should rip mine up as protest, instead of spending it all on beer and sandals like I did seven years ago.

Anyway, just to say, the tax deadline in the U.S. is less than three weeks away. Here's hoping you all have your W2s and 1099s already, and a reminder that the forms are downloadable from the IRS's handy-dandy web page.