About Starle

Hello! I am an American Expat. I moved from Detroit to the UK in 2009. I am a mum to two primary school girls; Little Stormbringer, and The White Rose. I married British born Manboy and (mostly) love my new life abroad. Moving to another country is difficult, mothering is difficult, so pull up a seat, grab a drink and enjoy my suffering!

I’ve lived a full life, here is why I get to claim this.

I got questioned about my life by a friend recently. On reflection, I have lived an awesome life so far. I should brag about it more.

I could AMA on Reddit any day for so many topics. I see no reason why I shouldn’t brag about it on my own little blog. Finding out where to start is the hard bit.

Shall I start with seeing that concert at The Shelter when that huge crucifix fell on me? Or maybe tell you about the several rewarding careers that I had? Or maybe tell you about the years that I spent on tour with The Dead?

Maybe I should share that bit where I survived domestic abuse for years and lived to fight another day? Or the one where I worked in a medical factory and staged a massive protest about how we were killing people with our ‘processes’, or maybe the story about how I sheltered a mental patient in my house and he stole a bird, and then returned it?

Oh, i know, how about that time that I drove a school bus through the mountains? Or possibly, the time that I won a state championship for poetry reading? Oh, or when I got to the finals in ‘Karaoke for Vets’ and then went on to host the rest of the league?

I have seen over 500 concerts, and that is no kind of lie. (for those of you in Detroit, it will ALWAYS be Pine Knob) I have moved many times, seen almost every state (sorry Texas) and met all kinds of people. I have climbed Franklin’s Tower and  looked down on the sea from many shores.

Most of that happened before I moved to a whole new country. Some of the awesome bits I am leaving out, and some of the horrible ones too. I continue to have new experiences and stories every day.

I have had a massively interesting life. Not necessarily a good one, or an easy one. but these are only some of my stories.

When it snows in England this year, Just blame the Badgers.

I love England, I really do. I sometimes can not get my head around they way things are done here.

The White Rose tonight said; Mumma? Why don’t we have a Kohls? And why do they spell it coals here?

That is a damn hard question to answer.

Uh, a Kohls is a store/shop and they have parking and things people want to buy and credit and a p..parking lot and…

Coal is something that you burn to keep warm.

This is how long that I have been here. I actually think that COAL is something that HEATS your house. I think that is what I put in my radiators. And this is not far off.

Energy is so expensive here! My Boy Gideon  (George Osborne) is trying to fix this. *sniger*. Manboy says that he is ‘The Chancellor of the Exchequer’ for you Americans. Like this will make any more fucking sense. I rather fancy him, just like my 15 year old self fancied Henry Kissinger. “Power is the Great Aphrodisiac!” Whatever.

So anyway I was in a MC Donald’s today and this is what happened:

I have 3 kids on the high-street and one of them will eat nothing but McCrap,

so the other two and I agree to let her get McCrap and then eat it on the way to a real restaurant.

The line was out of the door and the mass of bodies around the ordering area was  like a mosh pit.  I was really tempted to get out my phone and take pictures of this stupidity, except I could not move my arms. I did, however, activate my timer. 42 minutes. 43 minutes from when i got in line and then got fed up and then decided to time our wait in line. 42 minuets, in line, in a fast food joint. Are you kidding me England?

The only reason that i was in this line was because Little Stormbringer will not eat foods.

Then after 23 minutes, she says ‘ lets play patty cake mumma!’

I refused. She then played patty-cake on my boobs. On My Actual Breasts. This is unacceptable. But she went ahead anyway.

Let’s just re-cap here. I am waiting in this line while The White Rose and Wraith Child slowly starve, and you want to slap my boobs to entertain yourself. Fucking fantastic.

I finally got out of there and walked the mile or so the the restaurant that the rest of us wanted to go to. Before I could even sit down with my well deserved glass of cool and refreshing wine, the food had arrived. Less than six minutes I am sure. So is pub food really faster than fast-food? OH YES!  IT ALWAYS IS!    Good times, England.

I still have not purchased a dryer. I probably never will. It is just so hopeless. Though I did exchange a few tweets with the author of this article that I reference every time that I despair about appliances in the the UK. I really need a new sofa (or whatever it is called here) but I just saw an advertisement that said, that if I order it today, they might be able to deliver it my x-mas. I SERIOUSLY HOPE SO! Damn, buying anything over here is so hard and full of fraught!

Also fair warning, when it snows this year it is because it is winter. I am not responsible for it (for once) and It will be cold. So g’on and get yourselves a jumper and some wellies and some blankets and some cat litter and maybe, just maybe, a shovel or a snow scraper.

it’s probably the fault of someone else this year. I mean, we cant have vermin infecting our herds can we? I offer that freely as a metaphor for what ever social situation you like! *cough cough!* I passed my TB test y’all!

Now I just have to pass my ‘I AM ALLOWED to stay in the UK test’. Wish me luck because, for all my complaints, I never want to leave.

I now have a new otter and my life will be forever awkward.

My girls are about to enter the awkward state of life where everything sucks. I was reminded of this by the young men that were at my house this afternoon.

I run the kind of home where all kids are welcome, anytime. I regularly have one or two extra  in the AM before school,  and up to five in the afternoons. This is great. Some mums work and this lets me keep an eye (and a quiet ear) on all of the goings on.

Some of the children were on laptops and chatting about the social life in their school. Then one of the kids says ‘yeah but Starle had it BAD in high school! HEY! remember the time you got beaten up on your 13th birthday?’ (his mother is one of my friends, I might have shared a few stores in earshot)

Yes, yes i do.

‘And then you got wee’d on?’ Cue much nervous laughter from all of the kids. Yes, how could I forget.

‘And then there was that boy that spit on you every day and then when you graduated he told you that he had always fancied you?’

Uh, yep, got all that memories too, son.

‘And that girl that was always bullied and then you stood for her in your last year and everyone thought you were great even though they worked actively for your daily embarrassment? That bit?’

YES. I REMEMBER. But I am glad that you were listening.

Meanwhile, the two kids who had not heard any of this were RAPT, and staring and a lot of whispered ‘really?’ happened.

It kills me a bit inside to watch my kids enter the pre-teen stage and then go forward. THIS IS SO HARD FOR THEM. Once I made it to 17 I began to grow and learn and be happy, but, fuck me, 11-17 was fucking awful.

None of this was my mothers fault, and what my kids are dealing with is mostly not my fault but it is so, SO HARD to watch them enter into the abyss of adolescence.

I would do it all again ten hundred times to spare them this, but, that would be wrong because one has to pass through the hell-fire of Niflheim to come out awesome on the other side.

I will fight with tooth and nail to make sure that they make it out of this. They will come out educated, mature, unharmed and socially responsible. But it is going to be a huge challenge. I have faced so many hard things in my life, but this one scares the shit out of me. This counts, this is important, and this one..I only have some control over.

And this is the most important fight that I will ever fight. I have to be strong, and knowledgeable and calm, and witty and give spiritual guidance and keep everything together and set a good example and fight the good fight and show them the way.

Most challenging quest ever.

But I did get my otter today! It will make me happy every day!

Even on the kind of day that I go to the shop at 9am and then knock a car and fall over and then  I get up, and the alarm sounds and I freak and fall over again. into a puddle.

But I have my otter. Some kinds of solace you only learn with time.

(Hey Manboy! Thanx for the awesome Otter that came today! Perfect!)

I’m about to buy appliances in the UK. This is going to be (stupid/awful) interesting.

Sorry, but this is one thing that Americans do better. We truly are Number one! USA! USA! on this one y’all.

I have written about the superiority of American appliances before. Here. Also here. See my ‘drawings’ link above for why our appliances are so, so much better in the US.  This wonderfully hilarious link sums it up way better than I ever could.  (Bookmark that Slate article for later if you are an expat. nothing.funnier.ever.)

So. I need a new cooker. I am also buying a dryer. I am going to lose my mind. I subscribed to WHICH (Consumer Reports, UK version?) and have done research and I am ready to go for it but my priorities are WAY different to the English ones and I want to scream.

What the Brits (apparently) look for in an appliance:

1) How much gas/electricity will it use?

2) What carbon footprint?

3) How small can you make it?

NO NO NO. Nope. None of that. I do not, nor will I ever care about any of those things. NOPE. Have a seat, England. Here is what I want to know:

1) How much can I amp it up to?

2) Will it do all of the things that I want it to, and impress me with it’s massive ability to do so?

3) How big is the supersized version and when can you make it appear in my house?

Now, this clearly is not going to work. I am trying to be realistic. I need a cooker (I think that is a stove in the US) that is just less than 60 centimeters. (kill me) I need a dryer that will fit through my cupboard door (SOB) so less than 70 centimeters.

Let me rephrase that in inches just so that you Americans can be as outraged as I am. I need a stove that is less than 19 inches. Nineteen motherfucking inches. No appliance should be measured this way. OUTRAGE HAPPENS.(right?)

For you Brits: I cannot fit an Aga in my house. Oh how I wish.

Now, it has been a brilliant summer in the UK and I have had my laundry on the line and have been pleased as punch for months. My family in the US are dying about this. “WHY? A freaking clothes line? Are you insane? What year is it in England 1929?” (yes, yes it is.)

Honestly, It has been fine to just hang out the stupid laundry. But now it is not summer and I can no longer hang stuff out to ‘dry’. I need a dryer. In the UK they call these a tumble dryer. I am beginning to think that the real word for this is a tumble trier.

I knew that I wanted a vented dryer and not one of those stupid condenser dryers.

I am going to have to stop here and explain to the Americans. You know your dryer? the one that has a hose out of the back that makes the wet go away? That is ‘vented’. A condenser is one that…(take a deep breath)…you have to empty the water out of as it dries your clothes. Seriously.

So I pick out my vented dryer and WHICH says that it has a carbon footprint of ohgodwhocares and that it does not break and it dries things. Fine. I will have that one. Then I make room in my ‘cupboard’ look at the vent to make sure that i can hook up the hose. Then I get ready to order it and OH MY GOD IT DOES WHAT?!?

It vents out of the front.

Really.

Some of the reviews say that it steams up the room ‘a bit’ (Brit-speak for a LOT)

Some reviews state that it is helpful to have a dehumidifier (I forget the British word for that thing) in the room as ‘it gets a bit wet in the house during use’

NO NO NO.

OMFG England! This can not be a thing at all. (seriously if any of my UK readers have a solution, help me. I am in appliance hell.)

So…ok…maybe a condenser ‘dryer’ would be better.

I shit you not, this is one of the taglines they use to advertise this type of appliance:

“Dries clothes in under four hours”

What the everloving hell.  I could blow on a shirt and make it dry in FOUR HOURS.

See, this here is where ‘they’ get you. They make it so impossible to actually use power and energy to do things that you think; “well, fuck, i’ll just hang the laundry on the radiators!”

Carbon foot print right up the ass, right there.

The cooker? Well, I can get one that is less that 60 cm and (probably) cooks things. But I fail to see how this is going to be any better than the useless thing that heats foods that I already have.

You wanna bake cupcakes? Welp, the thing is, you need to turn the nozzle to the swirrly bit and then toggle the weeping astrisk and then turn them ’round half way through because GLOBALWARMING and…what were you cooking again? BEEP! Also, I have set your useful smoke alarm off because you are not allowed to cook.

Can someone help me buy appliances that, like, work? Is this a completely fruitless mission? Do I need my attitude adjusted so that I can buy appliances in the UK that i will not like at all serve my purpose?

Happy Anniversary to me! No, not today, I managed to get married on 9/11

This is only funny because of cultural differences.

After many years of desperately trying to emigrate (read flee) to the England, I finally after unspeakable hardship, managed to gain the right to marry Manboy. I was so thankful and happy.

The happiest moment in my entire life is the day that I landed in England and then it rained. I was, and continue to be, so grateful that I live here.

However, after passing all of the hurdles I needed to live here in the UK, I had to marry quickly after obtaining my visa. Manboy was in charge of getting us a date to marry. He chose the earliest available day. He phoned me and told me the joyous news. I have a date! It is eleven September! We are going to be married!

You can only begin to imagine the pause before I answered. September eleventh? 9/11? We are getting married on 9/11??!??!!

Oh. OH! oh dear. It is 11/9 here and I didn’t think.

I was all FINE and agreed, of course. It was not possible to give him a massive side-eye over the phone.

Welp, it is not likely that We will ever forget our anniversary. Or if Manboy does, uh, that might not go well.

I know some of my readers were there for our understated ceremony.

Gonna be a blast this year…NO Not a Blast. Ok…going to celebrate my anniversary this year, the same as I do every year.

Love ya Manboy. Thank all of the Gods that I live in England.

It was Chav Day at Crealy today. I told a Brummie Mum; ‘God! Quiet down yo!’

It is a wonder that I survived. When this ‘girl’ turned ’round she had a neck tattoo. Her ‘Mates’ also had neck tattoos.

Listen up here, I am an American. I am Loud. But by all the got’dam hells, if you are louder than me in any given situation, you are, probably  NOT QUIET. (just sayin)

They sashayed over to me, with their rollies,

I admit to being a bit frightened.

Then I spotted Neck Tattoo Number Three,

Hey, bunny, is that an EM shirt?  *i think i flashed a gang sign or whatever. I will TAKE some fake gangsta shit. This is my Language.*

Yo, EM, what of it? You messin?

Please. (PA-leeze) please?

hey, i knew EM. I is from 12 mile.

YO DOG SUP

erm, cool cool,

At this point the girl just plops down, calls her dawgs to heal and asks, me for a light.

We share a smoke and I live to fight another day.

England, I love you. So Quaint.

Thirteen Hundred hours and I’m Torn. The Tugs release their Gliders.

Two days ago, I said that I was going to miss the summer and that I was going to miss my kids. Six weeks ago I said I was looking forward to having them for the summer.

FINALLY my kids got bored this summer. I planned this. I planned a down week where we did NOTHING and they had a schedule of three meals, tiding, and times tables. A week of our ‘normal’ before the summer. A whole week of…sameness, before school.

Now I remember why I planned this. If they go for three got’damn minutes without something spectacular happening they FUSS. OMG the fuss.

‘I’m Bored Mummy!’ is 100% met with SO?

It is not my job to entertain you. It is my job to look after you, feed you, clothe you, read to you, snuggle you, teach you, nurse you…

But is is never my job to entertain you. That, my darlings, is your job. You are a kid. I can provide you with a stimulating environment and a few toys…

You are in charge of your own fun. I do this because I can, and because you can too.

I let you fight your battles, with my ear on the door, because you can too.

I let you talk to your friends, while i am listening, because you can too.

I let you call your relations on your phone,I let you lose said phone, I let you find it again. And I let you tell me about all of it. I let you listen to me when I have a bad day…

Because you can too.

We are becoming more equal as you grow up. I am here if you ever need a hug, or an ear.

I know I have feelings. You can too.

(written in honour of Little StormBringers 10th and The White Rose’s 8th birthday)

So I am back from the wars and my kids know A LOT of new phrases.

There is so much that they are keen to share with every one of their friends. I bet their parents will be thrilled. They might also know a few songs that they are eager to share. Good thing that Vollsanger’s songbook is online. AHEM.

So we were packing up to leave on a camping LARP holiday from Thursday until Monday. We were shaking, and breathing and nervous. We had a  Defender  loaded to the gills with weapons, armour, and kit. ( Huge Truck? costume? LOTS of costumes? i don’t know how to translate LARP into American.)

We arrived late on Thursday and were greeted by ten-thousand people volunteering to set up our tent and unload our stuff. Amazing. (See here about making friends in the UK. When they love you, they love you. End of.)

The next few days saw us fighting, laughing, loving and in trouble. I think we came down with a severe case of fucking elves. Literally.

Everyone had sore feet. The women (and girls) complained about corsets, the men (and boys) groaned under armour. We all had a lot of work to do, some of us more than others.

THE BEST TIME EVAR was had by all. Can’t wait to do it next year Black Company!

I got ICE in England and I made a Fabulous Frenchmen fall over

This might have to be my last post about the ICE issue because I actually got some. This is certainly my first story about making fun of a Fabulous Frenchie.

So I was at a pizza place the other day for lunch and, as usual, my kids and I made fools of ourselves. We were eating foods and quizzing each other on times tables and then I knocked Little Stormbringer’s drink over and we all got wet. Good times.

We like to play a little game when we go to restaurants. It is called “How Many Euro-Cubes Will We Get”. So when they deliver our drinks we shout: ‘Two Euro-cubes! One Euro-cube! No Euro-cubes!’ depending on what we have. Usually the inefficient Brit that has brought us our drinks has wandered off by this point.

This time the Brit was still near by. He was confused. I explained about the ice issue. (see here, and here if you haven’t already)

“Oh, you see, in America, they fill the glass with ICE first, then put the drink on top. We always count our euro-cubes because it is funny that there is no ICE here. ha.ha.”(I’m not socially awkward at all. nope.)

Then he smiled and said ” I will get you some ICE!” I have heard this before, people.  This never ends with ICE. It ends with four euro-cubes of ICE. I let the silly Brit go and get me some ‘ICE’. The kids and I laughed, knowingly. Then this motherfucker got me some GOT’DAM ICE. I could not believe my eyes! A whole glass! A whole glass filled to the top with Euro-cubes! It was unbelievable! I took a fucking picture of the glass and then one of the Brit next to the glass of ICE. He was a bit confused, I think, but maybe hoping for the first tip of his life from the silly Americans. (he got one)

I was overjoyed, but now I am a bit sad that I can no longer say that there is no ICE here. Oh well. We got ICE in England. It only took me five years.

When I was on holiday in The North we went to a french restaurant. Our waiter was very French and pretty Fabulous. Terrific. We are going to get some super service here, right? (no, i did not get a single euro-cube, but who puts euro-cubes in champagne? Oh, just me? OK. )

Manboy got an ‘A’ in french and I did some in high-school. Oh wait, I slept through that. Manboy, however, can speak it and did all of the ordering. I do not attempt to pronounce ‘fougasse a l’ail’ or ‘moules mariniers’ and do not get me started on the ‘frites’. Frenchie became all snooty and sniffy about Manboy’s pronunciation. I do believe he came to regret this.

‘Shambolic’ does not come close to describing the experience that we had that evening. If this meal had happened in America, not only would it have been ‘comped’ (free for my UK boos) but we would have had vouchers for our next meal, a massage and at least one bottle of champagne sprinkled lightly with unicorn tears. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. Frenchie only managed to order some of our food, so the first course was a mix of one drink, one starter, a bit of one main and something we did not even order. None of it was cooked properly. None of it came with the right sauce, no one got a complete meal and I think the salt was in the pepper grinder.

Frenchie-Fabulous was beside himself. He was flapping his fabulous hands and being all french and wailing about how ‘zis is no szupposed to be like zis! I will get yoo a free bev-er-aj! Please wait a momenz!’

Then on his seventh trip to the kitchens on his useless mission to actually bring us the food that we had ordered, in the right order, and OMG actually bring us beverages, he had his literal downfall.

We had done the unthinkable and brought our souvenir shopping with us to dinner and placed it neatly at out feet while dining. Flapping Fabulous Frenchie managed to hook one of his feet around one of our bags and launched himself into the air and onto the ground. I would like to say that we didn’t laugh at him. I would like to say that my kids totally did not snort into their milk and shout ‘Sacre Bleu! LOL!’

The sound that came out of Manboy at this point made me laugh so hard that I pulled several muscles. I think that it was the most evil, malevolent laugh that I have ever heard. It was at an almost comic-book-villain level. Totally a well deserved laugh on our part. I think our waiter went out-the-back and had a quiet, private cry.

So when we turned up for dinner again two days later, Frenchie-boo spotted us and singled us out. He wanted to redeem himself. He wanted to give us decent food and service. He wanted us to have a Dining Experience.  He did actually manage that last one. A Dining Experience was had.

We had booked the kids in for an activity that evening. (Centerparcs, I love you,man!) I was going to have dinner, alone with my husband, for the first time in almost a year. So Excited! Ordered a bottle of champagne. Happy days!

What followed was chaotic, disorganized, and mismanaged. I actually had to point to my empty glass and then gesture to the bar where our beverages were waiting. I ordered a rare steak and got one well done. (Gross!! you know that shit got sent right back to kitchen for reals) We ordered food that never came. We ordered drinks that never came. I had to have Manboy steal a salt grinder from another table. All of this is true and I cannot type all of the things that went wrong because there is not enough blog space in all of the world to hold the tale of how genuinely fucked-up-the-eyeball this meal was.

We ordered in the standard way:

1) Order drinks then read menu

2) Order starters and mains (appetizers and entrees in American)

3) Drink drinks and wait for first course

So what do you think should happen when you follow these three simple steps? Would you expect to get drinks, then starters, then more drinks perhaps, then your main course? That is kind of what I expected to happen. After all, our-man-Frenchie was on the job and ‘determainez to gets zis rvight!’ Nope. None of that happened.

The good news is that we were having so much fun on holiday that none of this made us even slightly annoyed. Had this happened to me at any other time or place I would have set fire to the tablecloth and shot a hole through the bill. However, this was somehow entertaining and made us just giggle and shake our heads in amusement. And poor Flappy-Frenchie even got a tip. Hilarious. Maybe we should drink champagne more often.

Nihilists with Good Imaginations, why I Love the North of England

I have just spent ten days in The North of England. OMG I love The North. Give yourselves a huge hug from me.

I have never felt so at home in England than I did with y’all. Yes, your tattoos were un-necessary, yes your Northern accent left me unable to communicate,  but we got there in the end.

I found your shoes…silly. I found your kids unruly, I found your wives messed up, but I found you, as a whole, Awesome. I wish I could live up there with you, my people.

I will miss The North. I will continue to be ‘from the South West’ but you guys…you were so cool.

Hugs Cumbria. Hugs my Brummies. Thanks for the memories!