Sunday, 28 February 2010

A Good Way to Pass the Time When You're Underground


Any parent will tell you that (adult) reading time is limited when you have a little one to chase after most of the day. Though I certainly won't dispute the literary merits of Goodnight Moon or Guess How Much I Love You, I do miss getting caught up in a good story. But since I have been back at work, my daily commute has given me the opportunity to read lots of great books. Some are old classics that I have had to revisit so I could teach them (The Hobbit, To Kill a Mockingbird, All Quiet on the Western Front, Lord of the Flies). Others are more contemporary novels from my "To Read" stack that somehow keeps growing instead of getting smaller (The Time Traveler's Wife and The Lovely Bones are two of my most recent reads). I even managed to read the first three books in the Twilight series. My feelings about this series could take up a whole other blog entry, but I'll leave that till another time. Let's just say that I'll read the last one only because I feel like since I've already committed so much time to the series I ought to find out how it ends.

But the books in the Millennium trilogy by Swedish writer Stieg Larsson are definitely the ones that have kept me turning the pages long after my stop is announced over the train's loudspeaker. So far, I have read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and am halfway through The Girl Who Played With Fire. There's been a lot of hype about these books, mainly because Larsson died just months before the books were published. I see at least one person a day reading one of them on the train. They can definitely be classified as "adult material," and some of the scenes are quite graphic, but if you want a book that will make you ask yourself whether you have enough time to read just one more page before your stop, then I would definitely recommend this series.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Hail to the... Queen?

When I first started making plans to move to the UK almost five years ago, the idea of obtaining British citizenship never really crossed my mind. It wasn't really important to me, since, as I was married to a British citizen, I could obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain and live here... well, indefinitely. Plus, to be honest, I was a bit ignorant about the whole process and didn't know whether I would have to give up my American citizenship.

But as time has passed and we now have a half-British half-American daughter, things have changed. So I have started the process of applying for British citizenship after all. As of now, I have only just read the 39-page guidance notes to the application, but my plan is to make the application within the next few months so that by the end of the year I'll be swearing allegiance to the Queen.

I've changed my mind for a number of reasons:

1) Traveling on the same passport will be much easier for our bi-cultural family, not so much when we travel to the States, since Crumpet and I will always have to use our American passports to enter the country, but certainly when traveling within Europe or elsewhere (see number 4 for more on this one).
2) If we ever do decide to run a gîte in France or if I find a teaching job in Belgium, it will be much easier with British citizenship, which will allow me to live and work anywhere in the European Union.
3) The right to vote. If I'm paying UK taxes, I might as well have a say in how they're spent.
4) Cuba. "What?" you may ask. Well, not that I've ever had a huge desire to go to Cuba, but just the thought that I could now if I wanted to is pretty cool.

And since I don't have to give up my American citizenship in order to become "British," I'll really be able to enjoy the best (and worst) of both worlds.