Sending a Fragile Birthday Present to the US

My brother has lived in Tennessee in the US for 15 years now, but still, every single birthday, I make sure I let him know I’ve remembered by sending him a gift. With his birthday fast approaching once again, I’ve been thinking about possible ideas for birthday gifts I can send to the US.

Obviously there are some things which are just a bad idea. As much as I’d love to send him his favourite macaroons from an expensive shop in London, I know they won’t last the journey. They’ll taste the same, but pistachio green almondy crumbs aren’t as impressive as the real deal. I’d love to send over a DVD of a TV series I know he’d love that doesn’t show in America, but it might not work on his Region 1 DVD player, so would be a waste of money.

I’ve settled on the idea of sending him a football shirt of his favourite British team. I’ve bought it and it’s sat waiting to be wrapped. This shouldn’t be a problem to send at all. However, the other day I also spotted some gorgeous whisky glasses in a bespoke glassware boutique in town and just had to get a pair. Of course, these are going to be a little more complicated than a football shirt to send abroad, but sometimes a gift fits the recipient so well that you just have to buy it anyway.

Firstly, I’ll be stuffing the glasses with screwed up newspaper to give them a little reinforcement. Then I’ll be wrapping each glass in bubblewrap individually, before then securing the two together with an extra layer of bubblewrap. Thankfully I’ll have the advantage of the shirt to wrap around the glasses, but if I didn’t I’d get hold of some thick old fabric or some good quality paper. Then, I’ll place the glasses and shirt in a box in which they fit as tightly as possible. The more spare space there is, the more likely it’ll be that the glass will move around in the box and break.

Then I’ll need to stuff the box at much as possible to keep the glasses still. I’ll be using polystyrene shapes which I’ll tip into the box all around the glasses. Then, once I’ve placed his birthday card onto the top of the box, I’ll seal it all up using parcel tape. I’ll use this along all the edges of the box and across the corners for extra reinforcement.

Finally, I’ll write his name and address clearly on the box, along with a ‘fragile’ note to the postal workers and send my parcel to the USA. I can’t wait to find out if he likes his gift, and his birthday can’t come quickly enough!

Ronnie Beck is a devoted family man who blogs about maintainign long distance relationships with far away loved ones

How JenSpends met Her English Husband

This is a true love, I met my love online, story being shared by Jen from JenSpends.

Our story is kind of nerdy. Back in 1999 it was a big deal to have your own personal website if you could figure out how to make one. I spent many hours after school my senior year of high school scanning my art portfolio and uploading it online. G also had his own website where he uploaded photos of his scouting adventures and some poetry he had written. Back then “webrings” were also a big deal. You could join up with groups of like-minded webmasters and everyone placed links at the bottom of their pages so that visitors could navigate to other blogs in the same “ring”.

One of G’s friends, also a nerd with a website, had created a webring called “Bored Students Webring”, which I found one day while I was bored at my summer job. It seemed like a good fit for me, so I joined and explored his friend’s site. It’s funny because the first photo I ever saw of G was edited by his friend to make him look like Spock from Star Trek. It was also an old photo, and he looked about 12 years old, so I didn’t give him much thought. I left a message in his friend’s guestbook. G didn’t have Internet access over the summer, but several months later I was very surprised to find a message from G in my own guestbook. He had visited my website, where he saw his first photo of me–I had pasted my face onto the Mona Lisa. He left me a brief message saying that he liked my website and my art. I emailed him back, and so our correspondence began.

I was at college in Buffalo, NY and G was in England, where he is from. I was a complete anglophile at the time, so the idea of corresponding with an actual Brit was exciting to me. I discovered that he and I were the same age, both in our first year at college, and he was a lot cuter than that Spock picture I had seen. I think the fact that we came from such different places is what really ignited the spark that became a relationship. We enjoyed talking about the ways in which our lives were very different, yet the same. Both of us had rather shy personalities, but being able to write our thoughts gave us a lot of confidence. There were some “perks” to having a long-distance relationship. We learned to communicate very well, and we both enjoyed exchanging good old fashioned love letters on a regular basis (it was so exciting getting a letter from England in the mail!). It was also good that I was able to have my independence as I worked my way through college. I was an architecture major, which was very grueling, and I think it would have been difficult to maintain a traditional relationship while keeping up with the insane schedule and workload.

Of course there were several downsides to a long-distance relationship as well. First of all, I felt like there was a stigma attached. Back then online dating was still relatively new and there were always horror stories about people turning out to be axe murderers, twenty years older than they claimed, a different gender, or scary looking. I think even I believed some of it–I was terrified to give G my mailing address when he wanted to send me my first letter, and I was embarrassed to explain to others that I was having an online relationship. I referred to him as my “penpal” for a long time until it became obvious that he meant a lot more to me. I had to bookmark a dictionary of British slang so I could work out whether G was trying to compliment me or insult me sometimes, but even without the language gap there were times when one or both of us misunderstood what we were trying to say. The time difference was another issue–it was difficult to find time when we were both available to chat or talk on the phone. When things began to get really serious and I realized that we might spend our lives together, it was difficult thinking about one of us leaving our family and everything we knew behind.

We finally met in person in 2001, and a few months later I traveled to England to study abroad for a year. Even then, it was still a rather long-distance relationship since I was in northern England and he was in the south. We did see each other a lot more often, though. The day that I had to say goodbye to him in England, I bawled. We had grown so close, and I didn’t know exactly when I’d see him again. He was able to visit about twice per year after that.

Maintaining a long distance relationship was difficult, but it felt absolutely magical when we were finally able to be together for good.

Although we first started talking in 1999, we consider the point at which we officially started dating to be the first time we met in person, on August 22, 2001. G immigrated to the United States in June 2005, and we were married on July 23, 2005. Sometimes it’s amazing to realize that we’ve known each other for so long! I spent the first 18 years of my life not knowing he existed at all, and now I can’t imagine life without him.

If you just can’t get enough of Jen’s story please check out the story How I Met My English Husband in Walmart.

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