That Pub Life

michelle obama, barack obama, Obama drinking beer, guiness, pub life, presidential visit to Ireland, Obama in pub, S.C. Rhyne, the reporter and the girl

Apparently going to the pub is not always about getting hammered (or pissed). These commercial locals are also about building bonds and friendships, sharing memories, and generally are very community-oriented places, where members will loyally visit this establishment several times a week, and get to know other members too.

So here’s what happened to me

There is a pub that I like, as they have good drinks and food at a cheap price, as well as they serve food at the latest hour that I have seen so far in London (11pm). So on Wednesday night about two weeks ago, I came down before the kitchen closed to put in my order for food and a drink.

Now contrary to the definition of “pub life” that I gave above, I was not feeling social during this visit. Rather, I just wanted to take a break from the books, and get some food while mindlessly staring at the TV or people-watching. Now, I had sometimes felt that people would watch me too, but I always brushed it off. I only come once every couple weeks at most, so I don’t recognize anyone, and surely no one recognizes me.

As I went to the long table, I sat in someone’s seat, and an older gentleman next to it told me he was waiting for his friend to come back. I apologized, and then took the seat next to it. I made a joke to him about my mishap (I don’t remember what I said), but sure enough, his lady friend did return and I was invited into the conversation. This girl was piss-drunk, and introduced me to random people who so happened to walk by us.

I couldn’t help wonder why she seem to know so many people at the bar…but, this is my American bias speaking. However, when I’m figuring out how to go soon, another gentleman sits across from us, and inserts himself into our conversation. He’s polite, but remember, I’m not feeling especially sociable. He ends up asking for my number, and I settled by adding myself to his LinkedIn profile.

The pub life, outside of the pub

So, this brave gentleman– we will call him Paul, does end up taking me on a date a few days later. And you know what, it was a great date! What I thought would take 2 maybe 3 hours at the most, was like 6. Wine and conversation at a jazz bar, a ferry boat ride back to the original pub where we met, and then a late dinner where he spoon-fed me pieces of his steak. Then, the romantic text message the next day….and the next…and yeah.

But I’m not into him.

He wanted to meet again, but I gave a white lie about having my tournament all weekend (I was lined up to play, and so was the team, but it fell apart last minute). The following week, when I stepped into my pub local, people were definitely staring at me. Some even came up to say hi, and asked if I remembered being introduced to them. This week, I had a late night meal with an acquaintance who wanted to offer me freelance work, and we were at the pub. Paul happened to stop by and he came to us to invite me over to his table. I replied that I’m on my way out, and when I’m finished with my meeting, I will stop by briefly to say hi to him and his companions.

Later, as he walked me to my building, I explained that I’m not interested in seeing him romantically. He was a great guy and a great catch, but I’m not interested. I don’t know why, maybe I’m very preoccupied, but I really didn’t connect on this level. We finally ended with a hug and he asked to give it a chance, and I simply said no.

The moral of the story…

So pubs are very community-oriented, it was likely that the stares were not just my imagination. After telling my story to some folks, I was told that many local pubs have a strong loyal customer base, where the patrons usually recognize each other. Thus, it’s possible that as a newbie, I received some curious looks– especially after going on a date with Mr. Paul. Because of this close network, gossip and news also spread quite rapidly in pubs too; which may help explain why a few people had came up and asked if I was “the American”.

Also, saying, “No”, and I did it rather quickly. It has been some time since I dated, however, I do not feel pressured to date or be in a relationship with someone.

Being new to London can be lonely, my social life had not picked up this summer, even while joining sports clubs or all those folks who said they would call me to go to a beer garden. So it was very tempting to finally have someone that wanted to take me to eat and drink a few nights a week and have great conversations.

no messages, cell phone memes, text message memes, lonely, no friends, s.c. rhyne, the reporter and the girl

However, as much as I wanted that, it wouldn’t be fair knowing what his intentions and feelings were.

Guys, a little advice; a woman usually knows within 30 seconds of meeting you, if sex is a possibility. I knew when meeting Paul, and especially knew after our first date. “Giving it a go” just means lowering our expectations for any blossoming of feelings.

It’s weird, especially as I close in on my thirtieth, it does seem that more guys that I come across are willing to “try” and “give things a go” even when there was nothing to begin with. Like, trying to start a fire with damp wood.

Girls, always go with your gut instincts, don’t string him along. If you’re not into him — tell him up front. It’s hard, and I know it is, but its the right thing– especially after learning from past experience, it’s never good to revert to those habits. However, it doesn’t mean that good conversation can’t happen over lunch instead of dinner.

Oh, and what did I learn about pub life? Well, I’m just going to keep bouncing to a different pub and keep these Brits guessing, heck, I may show up as a Canadian next week, eh?

So do you have a pub life or a first date experience? Tell me about it @ReporterandGirl or on Facebook.

 

Why you don’t come back from vacation

montpellier, france, S.C. Rhyne, summer vacation, Bastille day 2016, nice attacks, beach, muscat wine

I have been a little off since coming back from my trip in southern France. It did not help that I experienced the national mourning after the Bastille Day attacks in Nice. However, I did enjoy my trip with my friend in Montpellier in the Mediterranean province.

The featured photo is a brief snapshot of my time there; I have also gone back to wine-drinking, as I rediscovered the sensation of good wine paired with good food and cheese!

I am in back in London and the problems that I was trying to avoid, I needed to face.

So, one at a time:

First, my old job contacted me to say that they overpaid me and needed their money back.

What in Sam Hill…!?

I have never heard of this, nor did I think it could happen. I sought advice from two different places and performed my own calculations. See, the thing about this company (and I had inquired about this before with HR) is that their payslips only included my name and address, plus the gross amount paid and any net deductions (taxes). My hourly rate was not shown, nor the amount of hours worked or even the pay period–so I didn’t even know for which two weeks I was being paid or what date the paycheck was issued (except for the obvious date it was deposited into my account).

I was also suspicious because I had worked some overtime hours, so I was told I would get an extra paycheck after I left. However, it turns out that I was overpaid but based on the schedule that the HR person sent me, they didn’t pay me a few days of overtime.

Great. Problem solved, problem created – I am broke. Oh well, I can’t afford wine now, but luckily beer is cheap in east London.

I can’t think straight

I am stuck in my project. I have had some minor “mental revelations” in the course of my studies and readings, but lately — I just don’t know how to process all the information yet. And it is a lot of information, close 200 articles and some books so far that I have read since January. There are so many directions I could go in, but I need to submit a research proposal very soon and in October the graduate school will review the proposal and a draft of the first chapter of my thesis, to see if I have a “viable” project to promote me to the next year.

I think I’ll just have another beer, or three.

I’m having technical problems

This is the most embarrassing problem to have! So a few nights ago, my jack rabbit malfunctioned in the middle of doing the bunny hop to the song, “turning Japanese”.  And my other pet that I keep in storage for emergencies, did not work either.

If you do not understand the cultural references above, let me invite to you to move on and read this next sentence.

Have you picked up a copy of my very own novel, The Reporter and The Girl? Its available on Amazon today! Get it now, while it is still available!

Just kidding, it’s not going anywhere.

So, who has had a shitty week? Want to talk about it, I’m all ears.

Tweet me @ReporterandGirl@ReporterandGirl or post it on Facebook or G+

 

A Trio of Terrific Summer Road Trip Destinations

lake, summer vacation, wilderness, road trip, S.C. Rhyne, IR blog, the reporter and the girl

There is something magical about the combination of summer and a road trip. From the crystal clear mirages that appear in the distance on freeways and the sunny days that seem to stretch on forever to the promise of finding adventure on the open road, many of us are definitely dreaming about hitting the road.

While the desire to get out and see the glory of the U.S. on four wheels is there, some people might be unsure how to build upon this yearning. With that in mind, check out the following tips, starting with how to prepare for road trips of any length and ending with some stellar suggestions.

Prepare Your Car — and Yourself

Nothing will spell disaster for a road trip like pulling over on the side of the road in the relentless heat, trying to figure out why your engine is belching more steam than Old Faithful. To prevent this from happening, Independent Traveler suggests taking your trusty vehicle in for a bumper-to-bumper checkup about a week before you head out. Make sure your mechanic checks the tires, changes the oil, inspects the filters, and gives the engine an overall tune-up.

In addition, check to see your spare tire is properly filled with air and that you can locate the jack in your trunk. Since the risk of being in an accident can increase when traveling in unfamiliar territory, take some time to review different traffic laws from state to state on a reputable website like driving-tests.org. Spending a few hours checking out the rules of the road in the states in which you plan to travel can also help you avoid getting a pricey ticket.

Finally, give the inside and outside of your car a good cleaning, stock up on road trip beverages and snacks — animal crackers and corn nuts, perhaps? — and fill your iPod with plenty of tunes. Now, here are a few classic summer road trip ideas:

Amazing Four Corners Wonders

Yes, Arizona is hot in the summer. But it’s also chock full of amazing sights and scenery, and a lot of hotels lower their rates when the temperature hits triple digits. Whether you live in Phoenix, Tucson, Payson or Flagstaff, get thyself to Page in the northern part of the state. Page is like the hub of an imaginary wheel, with several amazing scenic “spokes” located about two hours away. Depending on how much time you have, plan day trips to the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley or Zion National Park. Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell are in or near Page, and are also incredibly beautiful and worthy of being included on your road trip.

U.S. Route 9, New York

Travel + Leisure included the 300-mile route from Delaware to the Canadian border on its list of America’s Best Road Trips — and for good reason. Specifically, a 57-mile stretch of road in lower New York is filled with iconic summer-time stops, including fresh produce stands on the side of the road. Start your journey in Poughkeepsie and head north to Valatie. The round trip can easily be done in a day, but if you have the time, consider checking out the full 300-mile stretch.

Portland to the Washington Peninsula

If you live close to the City of Roses, vary your summer journey to the coast a bit by heading to the peninsula at the southwestern tip of Washington. Make your way to Astoria and take the Astoria-Megler bridge — it’s huge, so you won’t miss it — over the Columbia River. The peninsula features about 28 miles of incredible beaches filled with sand dollars and small towns like Ilwaco and Long Beach, home to the must-see Marsh’s Free Museum.

So where are you traveling to this summer, or where have you been so far? Tell me @ReporterandGirl, Facebook, or on G+

The Road Ahead

flower

Good day readers,

I am writing this post in my last night in southern France. I was tired of cloudy and rainy London, and hopped on a plane very early Thursday morning, landing in Montpellier to enjoy a long and hot weekend. No one knew that before the fireworks display commemorating Bastille Day would end, that it would be marked by tragedy.

A double whammy also hit yesterday with the retaliation shooting in Baton Rouge, where an ex-Marine Sargeant open fired and killed three police officers and wounded three others.

This is our world now; endless nights of  candle vigils, dyed flowers, and crumpled stuff toys at the site of death and massacre, to show victims that we care. However, not enough to prevent it from happening again.

mourning

Feel free to share your thoughts below, or send me your thoughts on Twitter or leave a comment on Facebook.

A Tough Week for Americans

kids hugging, american flag, national mourning, S.C. Rhyne, comforting each other

Events this week in Baton Rouge, Minnesota, and Dallas has rocked the United States and also made headlines here in Europe. In fact, my BBC News text alerts came in the early morning hours as breaking news after these incidences.

As an American living abroad, I have been asked a lot of questions surrounding our political and social issues, as Europeans can’t seem to understand why we still have this kind of violence. Is it our obsession with guns? Is it from racists like the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) etc…

This is not to say that there aren’t socioeconomic issues or problems with violence in Europe, but it is quite infrequent, even when you factor in the latest terror attacks. So while the problem of officer-involved shootings isn’t a clear cut problem, for my European counterparts– I say it is not a clear-cut solution. So here are a few of the questions that I have been asked this week, and before with the #OrlandoShooting.

The problem is guns

If America just outlaws all of its guns, the problem will go away. Realistically the United States will not repeal the second amendment (I have to phrase it this way, because not many Europeans know that owning firearms is a constitutional right as opposed to a “regular law”) as it would require 2/3 approval by Congress (both houses) or 3/4 approval from each state. I do not consider myself a gun advocate, however you define that; but we still have the problem of illegal firearms, which in some states, are easier to get than legal ones. Also, what would we do with all the current guns? When the U.K banned handguns, about .1% of the population turned in weapons, which is a much smaller percentage than America’s gun-owners.

Although enforcement of gun laws and better gun control are needed, it may help prevent some mass shootings, but not the case of officer-involved shootings. The majority of civilians killed by a police officer are White according to the Washington Post; however, a large number of them were brandishing (visibly threatening with) a weapon or had just attacked someone with a weapon. A smaller portion of the shootings are against unarmed civilians: it is this portion where Black and Latino civilians make up the pool. African Americans count for 40% killed in this pool, which is problematic when they are only 13% of the entire American population. Thus, my argument is for a change in police training and culture, some towns like Ferguson’s police force are not diverse at all, while in Baltimore where the force is mostly Black they are trained to “police” the community and not “protect” it. We have good examples where police chiefs recognized the need for reform and did so; however because our governing is not centralize as in Europe– its up for each town or state to catch on and make those changes to police training and culture (how they view the communities they work in).

Doesn’t All Lives Matter?

Of course it does!

The Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) grew as a political and social justice campaign due to officer-involved shootings of Black men who were stopped for minor (if any) infractions. Many Europeans (and Americans) have a broad understanding of the history of race relations, but not how deep or “institutionalized” it is.

Everyone knows the KKK and the kinds of people today that are a part of this White supremacist movement (usually uneducated or less educated White men from lower socioeconomic backgrounds). However, before their membership declined, pretty much any White person of standing was a part of this institution; and by standing I mean a police officer, a judge, doctor, politician, etc…Thus, for Black Americans of this time (my mother and father if they lived in the U.S– but you understand what I mean, the majority of people still alive today) the people who were part of the institutions to serve and protect us, were also a part of an institution that terrorized the Black community.

So there is a historical legacy of mistrust, tension, and the devaluing of a Black person as a human being. In short, all lives matter from every corner of the globe, but historically the deaths of Black persons have gone unnoticed or without justice. And now in 2016, very few of these unarmed deaths have seen prosecution. For the BLM movement the lack of prosecution, justice, or even attention to these cases (before cellphones or instagram) is seen as ongoing phenomena of the devalued life of a Black person (man). So as a principle, all lives are important, but the #AllLivesMatter hashtag ignores/hides the crisis of the disproportionate deaths of unarmed Black civilians.

America is so racist!

Is it more racist than the U.K or France (is the response I give)? Yes, racism is a problem, but depending who you ask you will get different answers of to what degree it is a problem. Hate groups, like the KKK, today are a small fraction of the population, maybe 10% (which translates to 30 million people). However, in recent years with right-wing populist movements across the globe, we have seen a re-awakening of divisive and racist rhetoric and the outcome of that has been the rise of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. However, Europe does have its own ethnic/religious relations problems too. In fact, I have criticized many European countries for their lack of assimilation of immigrants, which have marginalized many European-born Muslims.

Right-wing populism is also making waves in Europe such as the UKIP party in the U.K which grabbed a large amount of seats in local councils and the European parliament in 2015 and hence led the #Brexit campaign. The Alternative for Germany party has also gained traction since 2014 and the Norwegian Progress Party is currently part of a coalition government. Also if you remember, America had the Tea Party movement. These movements advocate on an anti-immigration platform and a return to “traditional values”. Thus, hate and fringe groups may not have been our biggest problems of race relations, but the changing landscape of politics that is more demagogue than policies threatens to re-open rather than heal old wounds.

At least until I heard this from Newt Gingrich this afternoon.

So it has been a tough week for Americans, as we had to reflect and hopefully engage in a very difficult dialogue (as opposed to yelling at each other). As always, share your questions or thoughts with me @ReporterandGirl or on Facebook.

Happy (belated) Independence Day.

 

 

 

3 Tips to Break Through Barriers and Achieve Your Goals

achieving goals, inspiration, breaking barriers, empowered woman, reaching destination, IR blog, S.C. Rhyne

If you’re like most people, you have probably set dozens of goals in your life. From trying to lose weight and getting rid of household clutter to wanting to get a better job and/or freeing yourself from credit card debt, it’s fairly easy to come up with at least one personal goal at any given time.

While thinking up goals you want to reach is pretty simple, achieving them is much more difficult. Why? Inevitably, a variety of issues will arise that prevent us from reaching them. But in order to finally break through these barriers, it’s important to identify some common obstacles and determine ways to overcome them.

Now, No More “Buts”

As soon as you set a goal, the word “but” may pop into your head, trying to undermine your efforts. If you want to eliminate credit card debt, you might think, “But I’m already working so hard, how can I make more money?” or “But I owe so much, it will take too long to pay off my cards.” The best way to get rid of the “buts,” notes Inc.com, is to acknowledge them and then ignore and move past them.

Bumps in the Road

In addition to the negative voices inside your head that discourage you from reaching your goal, you will also encounter figurative and literal roadblocks along the way that can be challenging to overcome. For example, if you are trying to be more punctual to both social and professional occasions — because you understand being on time is a telltale sign of being reliable and responsible — it can be extremely frustrating to be late due to a traffic jam or flat tire.

While some of these bumps in the road are unpredictable, anticipate them ahead of time by taking proactive steps to avoid them in the first place. Check traffic on Google Maps before heading to work or a party, and if you see an accident or realize construction activity will cause delays, give yourself more time or plan another route altogether. If you rely on public transportation like I do in London and New York City, always add on an extra 15 minutes to your journey. There’s not much more you can control once you’re underground in the subway or tube.

Avoid the Naysayers

As SelfGrowth.com notes, the people that we are closest to will sometimes sabotage our goals. If you’re trying to eat healthier and lose weight, your closest friend might repeatedly encourage you to join her for ice cream. Or your spouse might come up with different reasons why earning that awesome work promotion will interfere with your home life.

In some cases, these folks are afraid your dedication to achieving your goal will turn you into a different person, so they may consciously or subconsciously try to discourage you. Unfortunately, because you genuinely love these people and usually listen to their advice, you might end up being influenced by their negative attitudes. To prevent this from happening, you might not want to share your goals with certain people, or remind yourself to ignore them, as they are being naysayers due to their own underlying fears.

So my heroes and she-roes, what barriers are you working through right now? Is there anyway that I can help or advice that I give? Tweet me @ReporterandGirl or post it on Facebook.

The Monday After

everything will be OK

Well wouldn’t you know that since my last post on procrastination, I followed through on my deadlines, as well as followed up on some things lingering in the pipeline. I managed my time more efficiently by checking emails only once a day and saving social media for the evenings, and solidly dedicating the day light hours to my projects. During the late nights, I would reward myself with a movie or TV shows on Amazon prime.

I’m still struggling everyday to discipline myself to keep up with the many things that I have to do; but progress has been made! If you missed my post, Waiting for Tomorrow, you can read it here for some ideas on coping with a long list of items and getting things done today.

In other news, the atmosphere in London has been quite weird the last couple days. Since the #Brexit vote, it is almost as if most of the tension has been relieved. In fact, the few people that I know who want the U.K to remain in the E.U, seemed nonchalant about the vote and replied that today (Friday) is a new day forward. These are literally the same people who were preaching about the impending doomsday if the country left.

Meanwhile, the folks who did vote to leave, were also reserved and responded about how this was just a new path and regaining control of their country. One particular quote sums it up, “the British love the concept of the E.U., but we do not like the way its being run.”

Where was all this level-headed reasoning last week, I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure these people out.

There’s also the concept of identity that someone brought up: she didn’t feel European– she’s British. I don’t know if this is a widespread cultural identity, as I can tell you that outside of Europe, the inhabitants of the United Kingdom are looked upon as Europeans. But I know that politically and economically, the U.K have been adopting some nonEuropean traits in the last two decades or so.

I know people are concerned about the future, as there is much happening in the global political arena. Right-wing populist movements such as UKIP in the U.K, LePen in France, Petry in Germany, many nationalist parties in the Balkans and GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump in the U.S have been gaining quite a bit of momentum in 2016. Well from what I understand, many of these parties have had a presence (even if just a minor one) in the parliaments of these countries for decades; but 2016 seems to be the year that they all  gained significant influence.

Now, each country is complex and are dealing with their internal socioeconomic problems; but if we can focus on a common theme that have led to the rise of these groups, in a simple term: ISIS/ISIL.

This extremist group has been the centerpiece for immigration reform, foreign policy agendas, social policies of integration, domestic and foreign security policies, and human rights laws. As Westerners (and people in the Middle East and Africa), we’re afraid of this movement and the many policies and initiatives that have passed can be linked to our fears of Islamic extremism (I use this term, because even though there are other forms of extremism, our media and politicians have focused on this form. Thus, its  convenient to identify for anyone to reading this).

Immigration reform lately has been due to the displacement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, many countries are towing the line between humanitarian and security efforts. There are many debates about this around the globe from recipient countries of refugees.

Foreign policy agendas surrounding the question about how to fight a group that have taken recruitment and jihad ideology to an unprecedented level. We can’t put soldiers everywhere, we can’t bomb every town, or raid every house.

Integration: One thing that I will say about Europe (sorry, I mean the U.K) is that racial and class politics are very different here. Americans, you know our terrible history of segregation and the legacy that continues today. There are certain neighborhoods that we (whichever racial group you belong to) just do not go to. Most London neighborhoods are quite integrated– you can see just about anyone shopping for veggies at an African food market, or get this — I’m eating at Nigerian or Turkish restaurant and most folks there, are not of that ethnicity. However, there is still a problem of integrating immigrants in Europe, not just economically (think slums and ghettos) but also culturally. I’m first generation American, but I have never had another American question my “Americaness” to me. However, for Europeans even after 2 or 3 generations, they may not be considered “French” or “English” or “Danish”. Especially if they still hold an ethnic-sounding name. A French friend that I spoke with, said that these immigrants (mind you, 2nd or 3rd generation) should try to integrate. This is a complex problem which not just ties into immigration, but also how Europeans see themselves and others. And there are some academic literature which links cultural identity to young European-born Muslims who end up being recruited.

Domestic and foreign security – wire tapping, NSA, Patriot Act, collecting data from other countries about suspected terrorists? Yep, that’s a whole ‘nother post about every country that is trying to manage and catch every suspect, before they can do something lethal.

Human rights — another issue that can tie into everything mentioned above, but many countries are passing laws or initiatives that disproportionately have a negative effect on the Muslim community. For example,  France’s law to ban all head coverings/religious garments in public, the NYPD’s surveillance of a Mosque, Denmark’s proposal to seize the bank accounts/assets of Syrian refugees so they could “pay back” the government for  benefits. Many of these reactive initiatives or legislation do more to single out a group of people and “otherize” them, rather than get to the roots of the problem. Thick and deeply buried roots that no politician wants to dirty their hands with. Hence, the issues that I mentioned beforehand.

There are many political and social contexts of how nationalist-populist movements are taking shape from the Americas to the E.U.; my small analysis just looks at one factor, that cuts across different sectors, regions, and countries: the fear of ISIS/ISIL and how that fear has manifested itself to scapegoating, blaming, nationalism, divisive rhetoric, etc…and my last point on this: ordinary persons know that some far right-wing leaders are wrong and maybe immoral. I have spoken to Brits, who state they do not believe in 95% of UKIP’s ideology but voted for them because of “uncontrolled immigration”. Likewise, many people do not agree with Donald Trump, but feel his solutions “to keep us safe” are the best solutions possible. Thus, people seem to be voting for these leaders for the 1% of things that they promise, which is indirectly/directly related to fear of the rising ISIS ideology. They are also ignoring the 99% of problematic and divisive politics, maybe thinking that the ends justify the means.

The politics of fear is a driving force for the electorate in many countries and it is beyond left or right wing politics. However, I will say that no strong country is born out of fear, but out of hope. And I’m optimistic that Monday after the Brexit, British and Europeans will still maintain this hope for new separate but mutually beneficial paths for both sides.

We’re at the end, share your thoughts, comments, questions, hopes and dreams with me! I am on twitter @ReporterandGirl or you can post on my wall on Facebook.