Sunday, 15 February 2009

Desperate, or just Mad?

My Valentine's card this year came from Brooklyn. No, I haven't got a secret admirer Stateside; The Doctor has just returned from there, having been on a recce for our new life in Long Island.

Yes, we really are going, in about three months' time; he has just spent a few days meeting his new team and scouting out places to live. He drove around with an estate agent (mildly putting his foot in it with her by describing one of the most famous upscale shopping boulevards in America as 'a bit of strip mall' . "Well, I suppose I did notice Prada," he confessed to me on the phone), and they identified some potential locations on the Island. There's a promising-sounding district that has a park, duckpond, good schools and a 'magnificent view of Manhattan' from the nearby coast. Which sounds just the place.

And now it's getting closer, I'm realising more and more that I have absolutely no idea what my life in the States will be like. I've not spent much time there, so all my ideas about both New York and American suburbia are gleaned from TV; from Friends and Sex and the City to Desperate Housewives, Mad Men (set 40 years ago, but even so), shows I watched growing up such as The Wonder Years and countless films (er, American Beauty, The Stepford Wives etc).

So which of these stereotypes will my life for the next two years resemble? I began to wonder...

Well, we can safely rule out Sex and the City. Although I might conceivably have had something in common with Carrie Bradshaw had she married Big at 25, moved to the suburbs and had two kids, I rather think our paths have diverged. Sipping Cosmpolitans with girlfriends and going on designer shoe-shopping sprees is going to be a little hard with the Littleboys in tow. Ditto Friends. While they might put up with toddler tantrums in the Clapham Starbucks, I can't see Gunther in Central Perk being too sympathetic....

And anyway, we won't be living in Manhattan. Desperate Housewives will be more like it. So far, my emails to work contacts Stateside have ascertained that the work situation for business journalists is pretty dire at the moment, so I may well be taking an enforced career break. But which of the Housewives would I be? I wouldn't mind being Gabby, prancing around in strappy vest tops and miniskirts and shagging the gardener. (Er, note to The Doctor: joke.) I'm just not houseproud enough to be Bree, and hopefully I'm not the ultra-irritating single mom Susan. No, I fear I will probably most resemble Lynette, the frustrated career woman trying to control her badly-behaved troop of small boys.....

Don't get me started on what The Doctor's life might be like. I am a big fan of US medical dramas....ER (although that 'jumped the shark' as they say, several years ago) Gray's Anatomy, and especially House. So will he be breaking into patients' apartments to find out if they are suffering from a rare fungal infection? Drilling holes in people's heads on car ferries? Or ordering attractive interns about? (That would only be OK if he were to make some friends at the hospital who look like Dr McDreamy from Gray's).

But let's just hope that while he's out at work, I will not be going slowly loopy, like Don Draper's wife in the brilliant Mad Men. She may have perfect, Grace Kelly looks but her marriage is imploding, she's getting her rocks off with the tumble dryer and you just have an awful feeling it's going to end badly....

16 comments:

Mud in the City said...

I always thought Lynette was the most human of the lot. And she has the luscious Tom to come home to - so it can't be all bad!

Life i the US will be an adventure. And with cheap flights and proximity to NYC you'll have plenty of visitors from the UK (if you want them!).

Wife in Hong Kong said...

I can't believe you're really going! Who will bring me news from the Commons now?

Iota said...

Oh how exciting! Please feel free to email me, but I think your life will be very different to mine. Is it for a fixed length of time, or open-ended? (I think that makes a big difference.) I look forward to reading your blog as you make the transition - and don't you dare give up blogging.

There is a very funny medical drama called Scrubs, which is one of the few things on US tv that Husband and I watch. It has us laughing out loud, but can be very thoughtful too.

mothership said...

It's going to be a BIG change, but also an exciting one. I did the same as you 5 years ago but to the opposite coast. I think you'll find it very child-friendly there, and while you may be taking a career break you didn't plan (that certainly happened to me!) you will not find yourself short of things to occupy your time with.
If at any point you feel baffled by the change in language ;) or are suffering from culture shock/homesickness, please drop me a line. I have been through it all.
Bring with you loads of teabags, an extra large jar of marmite and lots of biscuits. You may not eat them now but you will find yourself longing for them once you're there.

A Confused Take That Fan said...

What a great adventure you for you and your family. How lucky! I am sure you will have shopping experiences as wonderful as Carrie's and make some great friends. They love the English out there, and think you are as wonderful as we do!

Tawny said...

How exciting! the furthest my family have moved in 400 years is 3 miles! I am very very jealous.

nappy valley girl said...

Mud - yes, Lynette probably was the most sympathetic of them, to begin with anyway. (I must admit I haven't watched it for about 2 years now so I don't know what's become of her!)

Wife in HK - I'll have to persuade one of my Nappy Valley friends to take up the story...

Iota - it's for two years, so not forever (although people keep trying to tell us we won't come back, I sure we will). Yes, I've seen Scrubs, and like it too....

Mothership - I lobbied hard for The Doctor to get a job on the West Coast, but to no avail....thanks for the tips, I know about tea and Marmite, what about weetabix and shreddies though?

CTTF - I'm not sure my budget will ever stretch to Carrie's shopping experiences - it'll be WalMart for us, but I guess I can dream....

Tawny - it is exciting, although also a little daunting. I lived abroad as a child, but have never moved countries as an adult, so I have a lot to learn.

Bush Mummy said...

.. well you can send all your laundry 'out' to be done. You'll never have to wash or iron anything ever again.

You can order everything 'in' so will never have to cook a meal or do your 'grocery' shopping again (great chinese food).

You can have a mani/pedi every week as they have those little Korean nail bars on every street corner (even in Brooklyn).

I can't really offer much more as I was a single working girl when i lived there.. but i have to tell you I loved every minute of living in NYC and am VERY jelly bags.

You'll have a ball.

xx

ps will pass you my mummy contacts there.. couple of numbers and you'll be off.

Audrey said...

Exciting and scary in equal measures! I love Mad Men but it makes me want to smoke! I think you'll find that Americans are very hospitable and accessible but please keep me posted about it.

Melanie said...

Moving to NY 'burbs eh? Well I can tell you it will be... interesting. I've done the reverse. NYC to London then SW London. Not so bad all told. Long Island can be chic but sometimes you will stray into areas that feel like Croydon after 9m, but it'll be 2 in the afternoon. Do not be put off. Simply let your GPS get you out of that mess. FAST. And never go back.

Being in LI has the advantage of hop skip jump to Hamptons so summers will be warm and lovely and, once you've networked a bit, a calendar bursting at the seams with swish parties. Nannies included.

Beware of nannies and au pairs looking for new employment, most notably the ones who audition for your hubby and not you :-) Hire old and British if you're in the market.

Get regular doses of Manhattan if you can manage it. The Long Island Railroad provides easy access. DO NOT DRIVE to Manhattan. It will make you want to pull all your teeth out.

LI in winter has that surreal seaside at twilight beauty. The rushes are still there but buried under 3ft of snow. Most beaches are closed but some still allow access for walks which I highly recommend after stuffing yourself to the brim after a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. Highly recommend LLBean.com for New England winter gear. Get yourself a pair of these: http://www.llbean.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?page=llbean-boots&categoryId=43281&storeId=1&catalogId=1&langId=-1&parentCategory=503075&cat4=503002&shop_method=pp&feat=503002-sub2&np=Y and you'll be so very happy.

Anyway, good luck. Have fun. I suspect you'll enjoy good old New Yawk! I miss it terribly.

nappy valley girl said...

BM - Thanks. You make it sound very exciting. (If I'm getting mani/pedi there I'm doing better than I manage here.....)

Audrey - I'm fairly immune from the smoking, but it makes me want to drink! Bourbon in a crystal glass at 11am in the office...mmmm.

Melanie - hey, thanks for all the advice, and it's so interesting to hear about where I'm going to live. Am salivating at the thought of beach house parties in the Hamptons - although I have a feeling the reality will be less glamorous, especially if I'm not earning! (But I will definitely be getting myself a pair of the boots. I am already a fan of LLBean canvas bags...)

Tara@Sticky Fingers said...

What an adventure NV.
Will you still be blogging? What am I asking, of course you'll still be blogging, but there will have to be some changes . . .
Very exciting times and I wish you all the very best.

nappy valley girl said...

Tara - what a question indeed. I think blogging will probably be keeping me sane. Stay tuned though for a new name etc....

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

Hi! This is great! I was going to ask about a name change too? what's the equivalent of a New York Yummy Mummy?

Even moving to somewhere developed with loads of plus-es, climate, facilities, opportunities etc, it will be a huge wrench, you will still miss some things like mad,you will have to cope without yr support network, friends, family; you will feel confused, incompetent & de-skilled as you have to learn the ropes & culture (it's quite hard as an independent 30-something woman to feel like this all of a sudden) All this will also make you feel v tired, de-motivated & depresed at times. BUT that's culture shock, and it IS an adventure, an opportunity AND a challenge which I am sure you will relish. And having done this as a child will stand you in such good stead. You will have bad days, I was told when you want to give up & go home, but you'll also have very very good days. However hard I've found this moving round the world malarkey (extremely!), I'd say it's definitely an experience I wouldn't have missed.

Remember what Mark Twain said?

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

No one ever said ti would be easy but it WILL be worth it.

A Modern Mother said...

You can always rant on BMB and your blog. I can't wait to hear your reaction.

Jo Beaufoix said...

I'm sure it will be amazing. Tough at times but brilliant too, and if you keep blogging at least there'll be a familiar place and friends that will be there wherever you are. Good luck.