Tuesday, 13 September 2011


A common greeting in British culture- “you alright”.  While passing by neighbours, or during initial interactions with new acquaintances, recruitment agents or my new flatmates, I have been confronted with this friendly but ultimately very confusing greeting.  Said more like a statement, with a lack of upward inflection at the end (which would indicate an inquiry), I catch my brain quickly entering into a fury of wonder about how I am to respond appropriately to the individual addressing me.
Brain Fury:
“Did they just ask me if I am alright? Or are they telling me I look like I am “alright”? Is this their way of just saying “hi”?  What do I say? Do I respond with just a smile? Say the same thing back?... “No, no… YOU alright”…  Do I answer them like they’ve just asked me how I am doing? OR even if it is meant to be a question… Do they really want to know?... Is it just one of those things you say and not expect an answer to?...  Well, I need to respond somehow, and the person addressing me must be getting confused by this HUGE pause I have taken to analyze their greeting… SAY SOMETHING!!!”   
My final decision on my response to this greeting:
Out of fear of being rude for not responding at all, I take the friendly, new and naïve Canadian girl approach and assume they have thoughtfully asked me how I am doing…
With enthusiasm, I retort: “I’m great thanks! How are you?!?!?!” and give them a big smile!  
My observations: 
So far I have observed the following reactions to this approach...
1) Smiles (check mark)
2) Slightly confused smirks… I suspect they are thinking something along the lines of:  she’s obviously not from around here…”… AND/OR… “Gosh, she so fucking energetic.
1) “Well, you’re in quite a good mood aren’t you.”
2) Some people actually answer my question and tell me how they are doing. Although they do seem slightly thrown off by my enthusiastic response and my questioning back.  I think these are the individuals with a lot of sensitivity and tolerance of my newness. They get that I am genuine and want to engage in conversation even if I don’t respond “normally”.
Based on my observations, ultimately, I don’t think I have officially figured out the ACTUAL way to respond properly to “you alright”, but in the meantime I hope I come off as at least endearing and friendly. J
Another cultural learning curve to overcome:
As I drink my English Breakfast tea with “squeezy” honey and loads of milk (A SUPER COMFORT FOR MISS LAME), I think about how small subtle differences in the British and North American culture really do come into play and have a powerful impact on interactions… at least as I adjust and come to better understand them as “the norm”.
One thing that I have come to notice is the level of modesty that the British culture seems to exude, particularly when receiving “thanks” or “compliments”… As a hyper emotional/expressive being, I have always been perhaps almost abnormally responsive to gestures and thanks, always jumping to respond and validate every comment. Here, people seem to want to minimize this type of attention and often respond to thanks with a mild, seemingly indifferent, “it’s alright”. It’s done.  At first I had a hard time understanding this kind of response, and would often overanalyze whether the person was really happy or how they actually felt about my thanks, comment or compliment.  Undue stress of little Miss “busy-brain” Lame…  I’m getting the hang of it now.  
ORGAMI Mastery!!!!!
Firstly, you now know an origami master. I know. It’s all very exciting.
With two “Origami Jungle” booklets (parts 1 and 2) and an abundance of orgami paper squares in an array of colours and patterns, I set out to make a gift to Matt, for his wonderful company and gestures of magical adventures over the past 3 weeks.
Thinking “this is going to be fun!” I sat down confidently with the origami booklet and set out to find the perfect origami jungle creature for Matt’s gift.
“A lion. Perfect.”
I got to step two of eight or ten or something along those lines before I was completely stumped. NOT A CLUE. Feeling disheartened, and perhaps a little mentally delayed, I toiled and worried that maybe I’m just not meant to create origami creatures…
An idea! 
YOUTUBE!... I felt very clever as I searched through youtube to find a quality video illustrating how to make an orgami lion. “This way I can watch the folds happen! This will make it so much easier!
Rachel, one of my new roomies decided to engage in origami crafting with me at this time.  She is so fun and lovely and her company was much appreciated.  Together we sat in our lounge for at least 30 minutes, fighting through the origami lion video, stopping, rewinding and pausing the video constantly to capture and understand each fold, crease, inversion, all the while cursing the little 12 year old boy in the video who gracefully, calmly constructed a perfect lion before our eyes in a 10minute time frame.  It got too late and our brains became exhausted. Burnt out and feeling diminished and pitiful, we went to bed with half lion origami pieces sitting on our coffee table/box with black fabric stapled on it. I am so glad to have flatmates willing to engage in random crafting with me. Home sweet home!
Feeling dejected by my initial origami experiences, I took a day off origami attempts.
When I came back to it, I decided to start with an excessively basic origami creation. I made a ridiculously easy lion, which actually looked more like a snake with a big head. Drawing on a face with whiskers helped slightly… The quick success gave me confidence to move on and seek a more challenging option. Setting aside plenty of time for pausing and revisiting steps and pouring myself a big, calming mug of tea with “squeezy” honey and milk, I was ready for the challenge.
SICK OF LIONS, I decided to seek another cool animal for Matt’s gift. It practically jumped off the screen at me “ORIGAMI TYRANNOSAURUS REX”… GOSH DARN RIGHT!!!! 
I selected a gold square of origami paper. That’s right. I was going to use a favourite/fancy piece of paper.  I was going to get this right the FIRST TIME! No “trial run”! A video of approximately 11 minutes in length, I worked through with patience and focus (thank you caffeine) and managed to MASTER in approximately 1 hour!!!!!!

BURSTING with excitement to show Matt his origami masterpiece, I presented him with his gift soon after his arrival on Thursday evening. He loved it. Success.
I know one might think, “phhuussht, origami, a kids toy, not much to it, just follow the instructions”, but I honestly can’t begin to explain how proud I am of my development and progress in origami creation. It is quite a treacherous skill to develop at first, and practice and perserverence were definitely required.  And I am happy to have brightened Matt’s day!   
All-in-all, origami makes the world a better place.
SURPRISE DATE!- Friday September 9th   
 Don’t you dare look at the tube map!” Matt warned me as we sat on the cushy, 80’s patterned tube bench seat, with a tube map posted directly across the way from us... Teasing me… For 45 minutes!  
I had to reassure Matt at least 4 or 5 times that the brief moments I lifted my head up and my gaze seemed to catch the map I didn’t ACTUALLY process/acknowledge the lines and station names displayed in front of me. 
Filling time with some nerdy science talk and our experiences and thoughts on examination/testing situations (cool, right?), we carried on along the tube for 45 minutes, and I only figured out our destination when the pleasant British lady recording announced our arrival at “Kew Gardens Station”.
THE perfect gift for Beth Lame.
I struggle to find words to explain how much joy this gift brought me.  I was and continue to feel completely touched by the thoughtfulness of this gift, blown away that Matt devised this day of floral adventure knowing that I, Beth Lame, the nerdy, 25 year old garden lover, would be in absolute heaven.
Beaming, in a continuous state of smile, I was entirely mesmerized by the beauty and vastness of the floral wonders this park had to offer… Sauntering in a happy haze, we walked along the outdoor, traditional British style gardens of Geraniums and one of my favorites, begonias, in vibrant red-pink. They reminded me of one of my favourite dreams of all times, wherein my garden back home was completely filled with blooming, brilliant begonias.  
Some people have “sexy” good dreams… Miss Lame has “gardening” good dreams…

As we continued to walk, we approached a gorgeous, grandiose greenhouse... A classic off-white painted metal structure holding hundreds of panes of aged glass. This elegant building appeared to be bursting at the seams with foliage and growth on the inside, this made me burst with excitement as I galloped energetically up to stairs and swung open the doors to the “tropical” themed greenhouse and dove right into the moisture saturated air. Leaves bigger than me, SO many shades of green, diverse textures and shapes. Incredible. I wanted to touch it all.

We passed through a room dedicated to many crucial plants in the medicinal world... I felt the urge to roll around in all the plants and hope for everlasting health... 
Our exploration then continued outside, where we found a treetop walkway. Aligned with the tree canopies, I was able to see the details of the diverse tree foliage surrounding us and the vast park space beyond.
Oh boy, I love oak trees! Particularly the ones with the smaller, rounded edge leaves!... English Oak, I think!” I pointed excitedly… “THOSE ones!... NOT those ones!”….
Matt: “I didn’t know people had favourite oak trees…
Yet another Miss Lame moment.
Cool People have Beet-Themed Dinner Parties and make homemade pasta on Saturday Nights…
The past two Saturdays have entailed eating glorious dinners of handmade pasta with the amazing Martin and Tarvi… And wine of course!  These two gents were my initial temporary flatmates upon my arrival from Canada. They opened their home to me, as friends of a friend of mine, with no hesitation, just absolute warmth. I cannot begin to find the words to explain how incredibly moved I am by their kindness. They made such a difference in my new life here in London England and I am so glad to have gained their friendship.
Martin’s new pasta making machine has provided much entertainment in the dinner-making process!!! Two Saturdays ago, our dinner party, included abnormal amounts of beet root. Not a common vegetable of choice, a complete fluke that Martin and I both brainstormed beets at the same time, our entire meal was composed of this delicious and nutritious, deep red veggie- I brought a warm beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts and Martin created an incredible beet filling for the ravioli.  YUM!
My initial thought- Red poop? I know. Beth = Class.
I have been given a 5-6 week Maternity Cover job at a Jewish highschool in the north end of London... Teaching Science!!! I start on Friday September 16th!!!! HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHEEEEEEEEEECCCCCCKKKKKKKKKK YEEEAHHH!!!!!!

I should probably research Judaism in advance in order to limit my super dork, potentially offensive predicaments/situations in which I'm certain I could easily find myself... 

"would anyone like a bite of my sausage???"... terrible...   

NOTE: Any words that are bolded, italicized, underlined and in red are suggested/preferred words by Mom. She doesn’t like me saying words like fuck, shit, ass (etc) on the internet… I feel these words better illustrate my feelings as times, so just imagine them in there if you will.


  1. We are grateful to have you as our friend!!!
    The dinners should definitely be a weekly thing, don't you think?!

  2. I just saw this comment noww!!!! I love our dinners together!!! :-D