07 November, 2006

How To Become Completely Self-Centered in Three Easy Steps

OK, this title is a little misleading because the first step is: be really self-centered to begin with. If you are not, you must add this step.


You write a blog, say about moving to London. This way, everything you do is experienced not only by you, but by innocent people who happen upon your blog.


Start trying to find new people to read your blog, by searching for other self-centered people who write blogs and sending them the link to your blog. Seriously, this is how pitiful I have become. You would be surprised at how many scary websites there are claiming to be about, for example, "Expats Living Abroad." Or even "Expat Mothers Living Abroad." Except that both of those particular websites were heavily populated by people who titled their posts things like "XXX Hot Fuzzy Girl in London," and "Military Girl Looking for Fun," which at least sounded potentially more entertaining than "Attachment Parenting in London." I remember "attachment parenting" from when Avery was a baby and various people tried to get me to read books about being a mother, and one of them suggested that the "24-hour cure" for troublesome nursing was placing the mother and baby in bed together and not letting them come out for 24 hours. It was surmised that by the end of that time period, the necessary amount of bonding would have taken place and all would be well. My idea of a "24-hour cure" was a night at the Tribeca Grand while somebody else took care of the baby. Not that I ever did that, but it always seemed like an option.

But I digress. My point is, I have now reached the point of... blogging about blogging. It's just that pathetic. Seriously, though, I found one good site, and that's expat-blog, full of other people who have been sent to, dragged to, otherwise forced to move to foreign lands. There are lot of people living in London, but I think there's a significant risk that some of them may be as self-centered as me, in which case there is not room for more than one of us.

Meanwhile, let's see, it's a typical grey London morning. In a rare early-morning social encounter, we stopped off at Avery's friend Angelica's house before school dropoff in order to receive a birthday present too large to be brought to school! Oh my. When Angelica's mother arranged this with me last night, I was of course wide awake and it sounded like a perfectly reasonable thing to do: just set the alarm half an hour early and stop off to chat while Avery opened her present (what on earth could be too large to bring to school? Avery guessed a pony). However, I forgot that I'm really not at my best at 8 a.m. I tend not to be able to think of anything to say, and if I do think of something, I don't remember afterward that I've said it. John is this way late at night, but somehow life seems to embrace his approach, where everyone expects me to be chirpy and responsive when I first wake up. At any rate, 8 o'clock found us in Angelica's warm, homey kitchen, with a lovely housekeeper making crepes and Jill holding the new baby. I promptly woke up enough to ask to hold her, and she spent the next few minutes chewing on the shoulder of my cardigan, the dear little thing. Avery opened her present, and it was, amazingly, the largest of all the Sylvanian houses. She is in complete heaven. Now her beloved animals have an even larger place to live than then darling cottage her friend Anna gave her. For sure, these children know each other very well. We sat down with the parents while the girls oohed and aahed, and chatted about the elections in America today. I wonder what will happen. England is, unusually, very interested this year because they think it will affect British troops in Iraq, so there is a surprising amount of coverage here. I'll have to pay attention.

In the few moments available to me yesterday not to be self-centered, I spent time sorting toys and wrapping presents for Thursday's Michaelmas Fair at school. It was the exact replica of the hundreds of other mornings I have spent at Washington Market School or P.S. 234 in New York: granted, the women had elegant English names like Geraldine and Josephine instead of peppy American names like Alyssa and Hali, but still, the atmosphere was the same. The same joy in contributing to our children's lives, the same petty arguing over who was in charge of pricing the puzzles. "If you don't MIND, I could use those scissors," and "Well, Arabella told me yesterday that at the birthday party on Sunday, Henrietta said..." Just in English accents. Mothers across the world are pretty much indistinguishable. After school Becky and I wandered around John Lewis looking for stuff to buy, namely a sewing kit so I can sew yet more *&^% name tapes on Avery's riding gloves, so that at least the next time she loses them there is a hope that someone could return them to her. Also I found a darling little "pinny" for Baby Jane. What is a pinny, you ask? Well, so did I, and it's short for "pinafore." I am always obscurely relieved to find time-honoured national Britishisms (like putting an unnecessary "u" in "honour") that still hold sway. Jane will grow up to call her pinny a jumper, which of course in England would get her a sweater.

Oh, and a book you might like! Becky gave it to me saying, "This will remind you of our lives," which of course at times is not what I would call a ringing endorsement for a piece of American literature, but hey, I gave it a try. An Uncommon Degree of Popularity, by Kathleen Gilles Seidel. About a group of sixth-grade girls and their mothers, all trying to cope with the social realities of being popular or not. John and I have discussed this a number of times with Avery, since we were both rather un-cool as pre-teens and teenagers, and never got any cooler, but for some reason were always pretty warmly accepted by the kids who were cool. Looking back I think it was a nice place to sit: no pressure, but plenty of friends. I'm about halfway through and it's a clever read.

Well, enough about something besides me. I think I'll google myself...

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