Thursday, July 31, 2008

What a Fun Country!

Towards the end of our stay in Port Stephens, they began to have organized activities for the children.  It was late December and the summer holidays were beginning (that's probably going to sound very weird to any American readers I might have).

I took Jack to an arts and crafts session.   Jack was nervous about separating from me so with the blessings of the counselor/instructor, I stayed.

While the kids did artistic stuff, I chatted with the instructor.   We talked about Australia and the time he spent in America.   Then he filled me in on what children's activities would be happening further in the week--when we'd unfortunately not be there anymore.

One of the things he said was that they were going to take the kids down to the beach and they'd have an ice block.

I had no idea what an ice block was, but it sounded spectacular.   I pictured a huge block of ice that the kids got to climb on and play all over.  Slipping and sliding.  Chasing each other in circles around the block.   I don't know.   It sounded awesome.  This further confirmed my belief that Australia had to be the best country in the world.  (note: the first thing that confirmed this for me was at a food stand in Circular Quay.  They sold donuts with lollipops inside!  Can you beat that?)

I finally asked what an ice-block was.   

It's what we Americans call a Popsicle.

Lovely.  But not as exciting as a big huge chunk of ice.

I guess playing with a huge chunk of ice in a country plagued by drought might not be the most responsible activity.   Although, is it any different than swimming in a pool?

Anyway..... just for fun.

Here is a list of foods that have a different name in Australia.

This list is more for the few American readers I have.

Australians tend to know more about Americans than Americans know about Australians.   So they probably already know most of this.

They even know who are President is.

Americans....Do you know who the Prime Minister of Australia is?

Ha.   I rest my case.

Anyway.   

The list (along with my personal judgements of what name is better):

1. COTTON CANDY=FAIRY FLOSS  (I prefer the American name.  I mean fairy floss is adorable, but come on.  That stuff really DOES look like cotton.)

2. SPRINKLES= 100's and 1000's ( I prefer the Australian in this case.  Look! It's promoting mathematics to children!)

3. GUMMI=JELLY  (I prefer the Australian.  Jelly makes me think of the nice stuff you put on toast.  Gummi makes me think of an old person who has lost their teeth)

4. RICE KRISPIES = RICE BUBBLES (I like the American.  Rice bubbles makes me think I'm going to get gas.

5. RAISINS= SULTANAS  (I think I like them equally)

6. PAPAYA=PAW PAW  (I like the American better, but the Australian is cute too)

7. WHAT-THE-HELL-IS-THAT-STUFF?=VEGEMITE  (I'm joking!)





Proof of the beauty of Australia.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Past, Present, and Future

I had a very positive thought.

If I lose interest in Australia, I can still keep the name of this blog.

Why?

Because it's in past tense.

The Girl Who WishED she was Australian vs. The Girl Who WishES She was Australian.

See??

It works with present tense too though. Yesterday and last month I wished to be Australian. Today I wish to be Australian. Tomorrow I might not.

Actually....honestly. Today I'm just happy to be alive--whether that be as an Australian OR American. (don't ask)

But even if I change my mind and am fine just VISITING Australia, I can still keep this blog title and keep my integrity. Cause once upon a time, I did wish to be Australian.

My anniversary is coming up soon.

What anniversary?

The one of me becoming completely insanely obsessed with Australia.

I was mildly secret obsessed before that.

Then on August 16, I decided we should go to Australia and we bought tickets that night.

I should celebrate in some way.

Let's see....what could I do?

I know!

I could.....

1. Spend a huge chunk of my day emailing my friends in Australia
2. Read Australian blogs
3. Watch Australian TV shows
4. Look at websites about Australia.
5. Wear an Australia t-shirt.
6. Tell Tim how cool it would be if we moved there

Wait! I do that everyday.

I sometimes think our family should do something to celebrate Australia Day. But do we do that on January 25 while the Australians are celebrating Australia Day? Or do we do it on January 26?

I'm really not sure.

But just as we all tell our kids, when they ask the question that all kids ask at least once in their lives. EVERY day is kids day!

In this house....EVERY day is Australia day.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Where Have All The Hot Italian Men Gone?



Here is a synopsis of what happened yesterday on Jack's version of McLeod's Daughters. (actually it happened today, but I'm posting this tomorrow so it will then be yesterday)

Tess returns from her city cafe to Drovers Run.

Jodi greets her and then says. I wish I could go to the city. This might be because the only gift Tess brought back for greedy Jodi was a cup of coffee. And I'm thinking that coffee was a cold cup of coffee by the time Tess returned to Drovers Run.

Tess invites Jodi on a little holiday. They take a van to Adelaide with Claire as the very quiet driver.

They go to the cafe. Jodi stays in the van (well, because I was playing the part of Jodi and was too lazy to get my butt off the bed).

Tess brings Jodi all kinds of gifts; a shirt with her name on it, Aa2008 Calender, photographs of Alberto (taking at the Adelaide airport before he flew back to Italy), a drawing made my Alberto. And....last but not least: An Alberto Robot!

Jodi has some fun with all her gifts.

Then the real live Alberto arrives. Reunited with her true love at last! (sigh)

But unfortunately, Alberto has been stabbed in the leg. Tragically he dies!

If that wasn't bad enough, Tess (or Jack the narrator) comes over to Jodi and says ALL the hot guys in Italy are dead. AND....all the hot guys around Drovers Run are dead too. No more hot guys anywhere!

The only man left is the evil Brian...risen from the lead-infected swamp.

Scary!

Jodi screams. No! No! No!

Then Tess comes over and says it was all a dream.

One day, I'll have to explain to Jack that the whole just-a-dream thing is not looked fondly upon in filmmaking and writing circles. It's a total cop-out! But how do you explain that to a six-year-old without sounding like a mean mother?

I guess one day he'll figure it out.


In other Aussie news......

Jack signed on to Facebook and started crying about me not being there anymore. I felt bad so I reactivated my account. Please don't hate me but I deleted all my old friends. The only person on my list is Jack. It will just be something between the two of us.

I don't want to get sucked back into Facebook Hell.

BUT.....I checked out the Australian gift application I had made. Holy crap. I've never done anything that successful. It has 21,000 fans now and all these messages. When I left (less than 2 months ago) it had about twenty fans. What happened?

I might go back to playing the Traveler IQ game.

Maybe......

What's That On Your Plate--part 2

Another Sequel Post.

Bugs are a controversial meal, but there's something even more controversial.

Eating each other. Cannibalism.

One of the Australian-related books I read this year was called The Custom of The Sea.

It's the true story of a British ship bound for Sydney in 1884.

The Custom of the Sea refers to a practice where if things are very bleak, one person is randomly chosen to be eaten. This is called survival cannibalism and it differs from ritual cannibalism.

According to the book, survival cannibalism was not rare at sea. It was a fairly open practice with specified instructions on how to proceed (what part of body to eat first and how to do the killing) and there was poetry written about it.

Captain Tom Dudley deviated from the rules a bit. Instead of choosing randomly (drawing straws), he picked the weakest--the young man who was sick and close to death. Then they killed him and ate him.

Tom felt grief for what he did and probably some shame. But he didn't think he had done anything illegal. Because of this, he did not make any attempts to conceal the incident. When they finally reached land, he openly told his story. To his shock, he was arrested. The rest of the book is about the trial.

Personally, the book made me furious. These men did what they could to survive. The man they killed would have died anyway. If they hadn't eaten him, they would have all died.

I felt the same way when I read the book Alive--the one where the plane crashes in the Andes. I couldn't understand the hesitation or the guilt.

I think I'm missing the gene that makes most people see cannibalism as wrong and horrific.

Okay, don't get me wrong. Don't get scared. I'm not some kind of Hannibal Lector. I don't have a craving for human flesh. I don't look at my friends and think Oooh, I wonder if you'd taste better barbecued or fried.

I hope I never come to the point where I have to make the choice--die of starvation or eat my dead/dying companion.

All I'm saying is that if my survival depended on it......

I'm a vegetarian. I don't eat meat. I don't see a need to do it. I think meat is a luxury, not a dietary necessity.

But if I'm in a situation where I'm starving--or someone I love is starving? All bets are off. If there's not enough mangoes in the trees and grapes on the vines, I'm eating any animal I can find--and that includes the hairless ape.

I suppose some people have a deep respect for the human body--the dead human body. I don't.

I never understand why people search for body parts so someone can have a proper burial. I can understand searching for the body so the family knows he/she is truly dead. You want closure. Of course! I just can't personally understand the proper burial thing.

For me, a dead body is gross--a piece of trash that should be discarded. Or eaten if you're really hungry.

I guess it's just one of those moral issues where I'm on a different page than most people.

There was an episode of Nip/Tuck that offended me. A woman and her boyfriend were on their honeymoon. They got stranded somewhere in their car. The woman had hypoglycemia--a bad case and was dying. Her husband sliced off a small piece of his flesh, cooked it with a lighter, and saved her life.

They came to the plastic surgeons so they could patch up his arm.

Now I thought this couple had been incredibly brave. I thought what the man did for his wife was the right thing to do. He loved her. He saved her life. Yes, it's a bit gross. But what can you do?

Christian and Sean acted completely disgusted with the couple. They treated them like pariahs.

When you're in your comfortable home with your fully stocked refrigerator, it's easy to judge others.

When you're starving and there's no food around....you do what you have to do. Or you die.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

What's That On Your Plate?



Once upon a time, I wasn't a vegetarian.

One meat product I loved and still miss today is Jack-in-the-Box Tacos. They're amazing. Perfect taste. Perfect texture. I don't know what the hell they put in them, but I would love to eat one right now.

Back in the 1990's there was a rumor that Jack-in-the-Box used kangaroo meat in their tacos. I think we were supposed to be horrified and disgusted. I was thinking Pass me some of that kangaroo!

Yes. Kangaroos are cute. But so are cows! And baby lambs. Yet it's okay to eat a steak and lamb chops?

Personally though, I don't think what we eat should depend on any cuteness factor. It should be about how the animal is treated and slaughtered. How does raising and eating the animal effect the environment? Is the animal endangered or threatened? Is the whole animal used or is it needlessly wasted (as in shark fin soup)?

In terms of the whale issue, I'm against any killing of an animal that is endangered. I really don't give a crap what your excuse is; economical, cultural history, "scientific" research.......

But if a species of whale is not endangered or threatened, I don't go for the sentiment that whales are beautiful and majestic. Cows are beautiful and majestic too. Plus, we drink their milk. I mean that is incredibly rude. Thanks for the milk, Bessie. Now we're going to transform your baby into veal parmigiana.

Yesterday, Jack and I watched a National Geographic video about insect cuisine. I thought it was brilliant.

Okay, the idea of crunching on a cockroach or cricket does make me gag. But I wish we could all get over this.

Eating insects is healthier than eating cows. Hamburger is about 18% fat and 18% protein. Grasshopper is 60% protein and 6% fat.

It's better for the environment. Raising them takes up much less land. We could cut down on pesticides. Instead of spraying plants with chemicals, we could just grab the bugs off and put them in our cookie batter.

There's also the matter of saving fuel and eating locally. It's not easy to raise your own chickens in the suburbs. It would be very easy to raise your own insects.

Some of the original Australians eat bugs. While the new people are whining about the Bogong Moth invasion, the Aborigines are having a delicious feast. They also eat witchetty white grub and honey pot ants.

Ten grubs a day are enough for survival, and supposedly they taste pretty yummy.

As a vegetarian, would I personally eat a bug? Yes. I would have no moral difficulties with it. I wouldn't want anything too crunchy and it would have to well disguised. In other words, I wouldn't munch on a bag of crickets, but would be willing to try cookies made of mealworms or barbecued grub in a gourmet bush tucker restaurant.

Hey! I wonder if anyone is interested in coming up with a Jack-in-the-Box taco made out of bogong moths?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Deep Dark (well maybe not so dark) Secret

Supermindy's recent blog entry has compelled me to write about the thing I hardly talk about.

You know those annoying people who break out into different accents frequently?

Well, I'm one of them.

Remember that episode of Friends where Monica's friend goes to England and comes back with a British accent?

I'm what you call a natural mimic. I hear things and imitate them. I don't think it's a rare condition.

It's usually not a conscious thing. On Friends, it was presented as being a show-off/fake. It's really not like that--at least not for me. I don't sit there and think I will talk Australian today and impress people!

I just talk and it comes out--not all the time. At weird times. And rarely on demand. Well, actually no one demands it except Jack. So maybe it CAN come out on demand--at least with Jack.

The Australia accent thing started before I was even officially Australia-obsessed.

It began with Jack wanting me to play The Wiggles with him. He liked me to pretend to be Dorothy the Dinosaur. And then he got into The Koala Brothers and I had to be Josie the Kangaroo.

So.... I did the accent for our playtime and sometimes found that the accent would slip out when we weren't playing.

When we were in Australia, I felt myself picking it up again. I made a strong effort not to do it in public. I'm not sure why? I guess I'm embarrassed? Afraid I'm delusional and THINK I'm a natural mimic, but I'm really not. Or knowing my luck, the wrong accent would slip out and people would ask me what part of India I'm from. (I'm joking--have absolutely no ability to do Indian!)

I find myself switching accents in front of my family a lot. No one mentions anything. I'm not sure if they just don't notice. Or they're ignoring it--hoping it goes away.

The person who does mention it is Jack.

Jack has me talking quite often these days. Well, because we're playing McLeod's Daughters.

Usually, the accent just pops out of my mouth without any effort.

Every so often, it does not. Once I opened my mouth as Claire and a deep American Southern Accent came out.

Today at the pool, Jack started in on the McLeod's Daughters thing. Okay, if you haven't gotten the picture....he pretty much wants me to constantly be a McLeod's Daughters character. (If we keep going at this rate, I'll likely complete lose my American accent)

I told him I wasn't in the mood. I don't want to do an Australian accent right now.

Well, how about an American McLeod's Daughters?

So, I did that.

Almost immediately Jack told me that this wasn't going to work.

I said if I have to do an accent, he does too.

He tried it for awhile. He did an American accent with a "mate" (mite) thrown in every so often.

Well, there you have it. My big secret.

I read a young adult novel recently and one of the characters did the accent thing. It was presented as a sign of mental instability.

So there you go!

I joked to Tim....or maybe Tabitha. Maybe both? Anyway, I said I can picture what's going to happen. I'll get in a bad accident and wake up in the hospital with delusional amnesia. I'll speak with an Aussie accent and insist I live on Drovers Run.

Well, at least that way I can live in Australia. Okay, so it's only in my mind. But you gotta take whatever you can get. Right?



Another great "accent" scene from Friends.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Black Swan Incident

I recently told this story to my friend via email and I've decided to write about it in my blog.

Why?

So I have something besides McLeod's Daughters to write about.

I think I told it on Livejournal so you LJ people might remember. Act dumb and pretend you don't. All right? No wait. If you do that, I'll think I'm not important to you and that you never ever paid attention to what I was saying. So, if you're from Livejournal....lie and pretend you totally remember me telling you this.

Anyway.

Here's the story.

On January 21, I was all into reading Aussie websites. One of the websites I read everyday was this collection of Dreamtime stories. Before getting to that site, I was looking elsewhere. Probably trying to figure out Aussie politics or something.

Jack was in the room with me looking at a website about animals. He called out to tell me that Black Swans were from Australia.

I guess I didn't know that back then; so I looked them up on my own computer. I didn't just learn about the animal, but found out that there's something called a Black Swan Event. This is a total shocking unexpected event. An example they gave was 9/11.

I thought that was quite interesting.

Then I went to the Dreamtime website. Guess what the next story on my list happened to be about. If you guessed, kangaroos....you're wrong.

It was Black Swans.

My little something-is-weird antennae went up. See, I'm really into this thing called synchronicity. It's a huge part of my spirituality. What it's about is paying attention to the coincidences in your life--with the idea being that coincidences have meaning. It's kind of like a message from the universe.

I have about 300 photos saved on my computer. I use them as my desktop picture and have it programmed that every three minutes a new picture appears.

Well, soon after the black swan thingie, the picture on the desktop changed to the Tower Tarot Card. The meaning of this card is the same as the Black Swan. It's about something shocking
and unexpected happening.

I was a little nervous, but with these type of things, I'm usually nervous for a few minutes and then forget about it.

The next day I went to my friend's house ,and when I got home, I got one of those CNN headline news emails. I opened it and it said Heath Ledger died. I was completely shocked. I felt like someone had punched me in the face. Granted it's not as big an event as September 11. But still....it was shocking and sad.

I never really paid Ledger much attention and the only movie I ever had seen with him was The Patriot.

I don't know why his death affected me, but I cried a lot. It was probably because he was Australian and I have that whole Australian obsession thing. I don't know. Maybe I just associate him with Australia and so when I read Heath Ledger died, I read it as Australia Died.

Who the hell knows? Well, if someone actually does, they should tell me.

The other thing kind of weird about the black swan is Heath Ledger was from Western Australia and the Black Swan is on their flag.

To make this story even weirder.....when I started writing this post on my blog, the desktop picture changed to a photo of Heath Ledger. A scene from Ten Things I Hate About You--which I did end up seeing, by the way. And there I developed my first crush on a dead person.



I stood there thinking. You're too young for me. You're super famous. And you're dead. This relationship will probably not work.

Seriously though, he seemed like a cool guy and I'm sorry he died. I didn't know him. I barely knew OF him, but for some strange reason I miss him.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

2009

Sometimes I get jealous of the Aussie bloggers and the expat bloggers.   Well, because I'm guessing that MAYBE it's easier to come up with Australian-related post ideas when you're actually IN Australia.

I feel for the most part I'm stuck writing about a past holiday and episodes of McLeod's Daughters.

The ironic thing is when I'm actually IN Australia, I won't be able to post everyday.   In some places, the Internet is too expensive.   And I'm not going to visit an Internet cafe every morning.

Anyway,

I was thinking.   Why not take a break from writing about our PAST trip and write about the future one instead.

So, here it is.  

We're arriving in February on the 3rd and leaving March 6.

We're going to spend the first few days in Sydney.   Then we're going to drive somewhere in the Snowy Mountains.   I saw some farmstay place where you can sleep outside.   We might do that.  Then we can totally play McLeod's Daughters.

We're going to drive Canberra--go to the museums and zoo.   

At some point, we're going to fly to Tasmania to visit my Livejournal friend.   We'll do that either before Snowy Mountains or after.

Then we're going to spend a week in Manly and two weeks in Sydney.

I know some people will think we're wasting our time spending so much time in Sydney and not hopping around Australia.   But I love Sydney so much.

Plus, with the whole fuel issues.....I feel better not flying and driving around too much.

We haven't planned yet what we're going to do in Sydney.

I sort of just like hanging out.   Picnics in Hyde Park.   Playgrounds.   Daily trips to the aquarium and Wildlife World.   The Zoo.   Bonding with the cousins and new/old friends.    Maybe we'll all risk our lives at Luna Park again.  

We never did a harbor tour.   I was cheap and said the ferry is good enough.  But maybe this time we'll try it.   I've seen pictures of people swimming in the harbor (brother-in-law and a Facebook friend).  I really want to do that.  

Tim is scuba certified now, so he wants to go diving.   I think that'll be great for him.   He'll probably find something around Sydney.

I don't know what crazy and daring things I'll do.   Maybe the bridge climb again?   Or maybe I'll do the Sydney Tower climb.   Probably not.  I'm not as attracted to the tower. 

Oh!!   I know what I really wanted to do.   I just remembered.    I wanted to do a huge walk--maybe from the north of the bridge all the way to Double Bay.    That would be exciting.

As for the next holiday AFTER that--probably in 2010 or later, I have two ideas.

Either

a) Great Barrier Reef and Uluru.

or

b) take the Indian Pacific train from Sydney to Perth and stop at Adelaide.   (or take a plane--depending on how much time we have).

I would love to spend some time in Western Australia.  Jack of course wants to go to South Australia because that's where his McLeod's Daughters are.

Okay, honestly I'm not super excited to go to GBR and Uluru.  I think in some ways it's more of an obligation.    I'll have to sort all that out.   Am I going because I want to go or am I going because I feel we should go?  

It's also up to Tim--if he wants to go.   I'm open to the idea.   I'm probably more interested in Uluru than GBR.   I'm not big into coral and fish.    Tim might want to go though since he's now a REAL scuba diver person.     I mean it would be a bit embarrassing if he went to a scuba support group and told the other members he's been to Australia three times and has never done the Great Barrier Reef.    

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I Hate Him!

I think we can fall in love with fictional characters.

I think we can also fall in hate.

This is the man I now despise.



Harry Ryan from McLeod's Daughters   He's selfish.  He's manipulative.   He's horrible to his two sons.   His selfishness caused one son to live a life full of guilt; and it caused major problems in the relationship between two brothers.

I hate this man.  

Usually, I'm not a fan of physical violence.  But I was so happy yesterday when one of his sons punched him in the face.    I wasn't just happy.   I was relieved.

There's that saying the character you love to hate.   I'm not sure I love hating this guy.   I kind of wish he'd just disappear--maybe via some horrible painful accident.   Unfortunately, I think he sticks around for several more seasons.

The ironic thing is the actor that plays him--Marshal Napier is the real life father of the actress who plays Becky.   Becky.....the girl I'd be willing to to try being a lesbian for.  Becky....the girl I LOVE to love.   Becky....the girl I wish had stayed around until season 8, but apparently she leaves in season 3. 

Why?  Why!   No!  Don't leave us Becky!   (Oops sorry.  Got a bit carried away there)

Both Daddy Napier and Daughter Napier sound like pretty decent people.   Well, they're involved with animal rights.   I guess that's pretty decent.

Hey, I just googled Mr. Napier and found out he was featured in a Lost alternate reality game called Find 815.    What is an alternate reality game?   I have no idea.  All I know is if you play it, you'll see Harry Ryan.    But it's not really Harry Ryan.  It's just the actor.   So....no need to scream insults at the screen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Not As Easy As We Imagined

In my family we go by the motto,  Hope for the best.  Prepare for the worst.

I love that saying.  It's a healthy mixture of pessimism and optimism.  

Unfortunately, I usually lean a little too much towards the preparing for the worst--worrying too much about all the bad things that might happen.

I was different in Australia though.  

I was extremely optimistic.  I gave new meaning to the word Rose-colored glasses.

So when Tim told me it should take about two hours to get from Sydney to Port Stephens, I believed him.

I thought all would go well for us.

But if it did, I guess I wouldn't have a blog entry to write.

So.....

We left my most favorite city in the world on December 20.   A few days before that, Jack and I returned to the Taronga zoo while Tim searched the city for a booster seat, so Jack would be safe on the ride up to Port Stephens.   We figured we'd buy one and then hand it over to my cousin who'd need it one day for her kids.  

Poor Tim.   While Jack and I watched bird shows in close to unbearable heat, he went on some awful grail-seeking adventure.  

And he came up empty.

No worries, he said--because by now we were totally using the Aussie lingo.  We'll just rent a seat from the car rental company.   (okay actually I don't know if this was his exact words because all this happened months ago and I can't remember the exact dialogue.  But we can PRETEND this is what he said.   The general idea was there)

On Thursday morning we packed up our belongings.   Then Tim went to get the car while Jack and I went to Wildlife World.   (Do you spot a trend here?   I make Tim do the work and meanwhile Jack and I enjoy looking at animals)

We figured it would take about an hour or less to get the car.

Jack and I hung out at Wildlife World.   After some time, I pulled him away from the butterfly exhibit saying we needed to get back because Daddy will be back soon with the car.

He wasn't back.

No worries.  We waited in the lobby.

And waited.

Finally, he came.

The thing is the car had the much needed navigation system.   But it didn't work.   Once Jack and I got into the car, I got to see this for myself.

Jack sat on the booster seat that wasn't high enough--so we augmented the thing with the telephone book that came with the rental company.   I mean really.  Who were we going to call? Better to let our son's butt rest upon it.

I complain about my husband a lot, but he does have some great qualities--one of these is the ability to drive in a bit city.   He drove in NYC.   I admire anyone who can do that--including my cousins who manage to drive in Sydney and San Francisco.

Okay, but driving in a big city,on the side of the road you're not used to driving on, without a navigation system is NOT easy.

I don't know why we imagined it would take us only two hours to get there.

I'm kind of unclear of what happened next.   I just remember driving around looking for the bridge.
 
You know that big bridge in Sydney that I climbed up?    I loved that bridge and I still love it today.  But for that moment, I hated the damn bridge.   

I mean yes we could SEE the bridge.  But seeing it and knowing what road to get on to get your car on the bridge is a whole other story.

We tried to find a gas station so we could buy a map.

No luck, but I guess we found someone who told us how to get across the bridge.

Then at some point, we went to a second gas station.   We looked around for maps.   Nothing again.

I'm thinking now.  Okay, Australia.  Still love you.   But what is the deal with the no maps.   Are Australians equipped with some kind of inborn navigation system?

The man working at the gas station was incredibly friendly and helpful.    He said he had a book of maps, but it was expensive.   When we took it out, Tim gasped.  It was the book Jack was sitting on.  

Not a phone book after all, but a book of maps.

Ah!   Okay.

We replaced the book with some towels or something and then found the map we needed.

We were on our way.   I think by now the two hours it was supposed to have taken to get to Port Stephens had already passed.

Tim drove.  I daydreamed.   Jack slept.

Then at some point, Tim saw a sign that said something like "Tourist's route."

He said we should try it.

I said he was crazy.   Don't you dare.

He didn't listen.

We got lost.

I gave him a lot of I-told-you-so's.

We found our way back; and eventually we found our way to The One Mile Beach Holiday Park in Port Stephens.    I think we had expected to get there a little past lunch time.    We ended up getting there at dinner time.



Jack wanted to go swimming, but the pool was already about to close.  Tim and I wanted to eat dinner.  
We fought about it.  Tim and I used our age and parental leverage to win the fight.  We all went to eat.

Soon it was dark and there didn't seem to be a lot of people outside.   The pool was closed.

Nothing to do.

We were bored and not tired enough yet to go to sleep.  I missed Sydney.

I took Jack outside for a walk.  In the dark.   Without flashlights--or torches as they call them in Australia.

We saw a redback spider--our first encounter with dangerous Australian wildlife outside of a zoo setting.

I suggested to Jack that we return to our cabin and go to sleep.

We all hoped that things would look better in the morning.  

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Family's Dirty Little Secret

The first night we were in Port Stephens, we decided to leave the Holiday Park to get some dinner.  

Now this was my husband's first day of driving on the left side of the road.   And he had actually done a fairly okay job.    (note: I need to one day write a post about us getting from Sydney to Port Stephens).

We got into the car, buckled us up into our seatbelts/booster seats, and then Tim backed up.  We all heard a mild thud-kind-of-sound.

It's all kind of a blur to me exactly what happened.  But for some reason I got it into my head that Tim might have hit the park's animal mascot.  So I yelled out something like You hit the peacock!

Tim snapped at me and said he didn't.   I realized the thud would have been louder if he had hit it, and there was no dead bird around.   So we relaxed.  We absolved ourselves of what could have been a horrific crime.

We didn't talk about it until later that week.   And by that time we saw the humor in the situation.  We started asking each other....What if?   What would we have done if we killed the park bird?   Confess our crime and bring it to the office?  Hide it?   Bury it?  And how would we have been able to face anyone?

Fortunately, the bird was alive and well.   Loud too.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Something Jack and I Have in Common


I'm obsessed with Australia.   It's not my first obsession and it won't be my last.

Jack's like me.  He has always had obsessions.  Some of them are long-lasting and intense, and others last for just a few weeks.

Examples:

Geography
Jo Jo Circus
Maisy
Miss Spider
The Magic School Bus
The Simpsons
Bindi the Jungle Girl
Star Wars.

A few months ago, he got into Mario Brothers.  

It's always a little sad for me when he leaves an obsession behind.  Well, because sometimes I miss it!   
But it's also exciting to think about what his NEXT obsession will be.   I thought about that during his current Mario obsession and even mentioned it to him.  Jack, what do you think your next obsession will be?

He predicted Harry Potter and I was excited about that.

I joked a few times that it could end up being McLeod's Daughters.

Well, guess what.   My joke came true.

He even admitted it the other day.   He told me he had a new obsession.  McLeod's Daughters.  He still likes Mario though.   But the Mario thing is fading a bit.

He talks about the show frequently and he has me play McLeod's Daughters with him.   In today's Jack-invented episode, poor Jodi lost all her limbs to a shark.  Fortunately, she was able to get artificial replacements.   Tess had some horrible disease and was dying.  The only thing that could save her was holding an American dollar coin.   Unfortunately, someone kept grabbing it from her and she had a relapse.

Jack is VERY talented with memorization skills.   He has practically memorized the title of each McLeod's Daughters episode of season One.   He'll say things like "Mommy, did you like episode 7?"

I'm then totally lost and confused.

"What?  Which one is that?"

And he'll know the title and what happened in it.

I'm trying to help him realize that not everyone has his kind of memory.

Besides acting out his made-up scenes from the show, Jack also likes to make up stories.  He calls it MY McLeod's Daughters.  In his version, Claire and Becky are driving in a car and they hit a tree.  Claire is dying.  She says to Becky: Avenge my death!

Revenge on the poor innocent tree?

I have no idea where he gets this stuff!

Right now as I write this, he's sending me emails which he pretends are written by characters in the show.   Great writing practice.

I did finally ask him directly what he liked about the show.

Jack, do you like all the animals or the pretty women?

He looked at me like I had asked the most ridiculous question and quickly said.  The pretty women.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Quest for Facebook Friends

Sometime before we left for Australia, I got a notice that my Livejournal friend Tracey had added me as a Facebook friend.

Now I was one of the many people who signed up for Facebook and then completely forgot about it.  

We become this lone name floating in the Facebook world.   But then someone finds us and we get lured in.  

Tracey is Australian and at the time was the only Australian person I knew.  I looked on her Facebook profile and she had like a million-gazillion friends.

Facebook is not advertised as a place to meet new friends, but instead as a place to keep up with/get back in touch with people you actually know in real life.   Or I guess...people you met on Livejournal.

I tried finding people I knew and had no luck.  Granted I've not been the most popular person with real-life people through out my life.  I don't have this rich social life with tons of friends.  But I did KNOW people.   I've moved multiple times in my childhood and went to several different schools.  I had so many names to plug in to Facebook search.   I kept coming up empty.

My other Livejournal friend Jamie joined Facebook so then I had two Facebook friends.  Tracey and Jamie.  I felt a bit pathetic....especially compared to Tracey's massive list of friends.

Jamie and I talked about how we were both having trouble finding friends.   I mean not that I need to be super popular, but Facebook is just not that fun when you have two friends on your list.

I came up with a theory that Facebook must be more popular in Australia.   I joked with Jamie that I needed to find friends in Australia--just so I could add them as a Facebook friend.

A few days after we got to Australia, I met this fellow mom in the Darling Harbor playground.  She was nice and we had a really lovely chat.   I thought we clicked well, but I'm horrible at going beyond talking with people.   My big sister is good at that.  She chats with someone at a Japanese restaurant and then she's writing down their phone number.

A couple of days later, we were at the Moore Park farmers market.  This was miles away from the Darling Harbor playground.   And guess who I see.   The mom from the Darling Harbour park.   I decided this "coincidence" was fate kicking me in the ass.   I found courage and asked for her phone number.  Michelle and I became friends.   We got together for some playdates.  We bonded.   All along, I was thinking....when can I ask her if she has a Facebook account?   I was just trying to build up the nerve.

I finally did when we all went out to dinner together.  I tried to be as casual as possible and not pant frantically, Are you on Facebook?  Are you on Facebook?

Michelle WAS on Facebook and she added me as a friend.   I now had three Facebook friends.

Later, I learned that people do meet people through Facebook.   Total strangers started adding me as their friend.   And that's not odd or uncomfortable to me.  I love meeting new friends.  The only strange thing was when people who just added me a few days before would then inform me that I was going to be listed as one of their top friends.   I'm thinking....I know I'm incredibly great, but it usually takes at least two weeks to figure that out.   

I guess relationships move fast in Facebook land.

I personally became obsessed with Facebook.   It was my life.  I mean literally.  I felt like I lived inside of the damn thing.

I also became a Facebook missionary.  I started pressuring everyone I know to join.   I got all my family onboard and I got some of my old livejournal friends to join.

Within months, I had 122 people on my friend's list.   It was out of control.  I was out of control.

Then I quit.

I had a lovely few months with most of those 122 people.  Sadly, I keep in touch with very few of the people I met through Facebook.

But I have kept really great relationships with two or three....one of them seems to be becoming the best friend I've been wishing for all my life.   So, I don't regret joining.

Although.....

I can't say I regret leaving though either.




One of the Facebook friends I left behind--my Haiku Pet Scully. He's now in Haiku heaven. I miss him dearly.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Okay, I'll Admit It. Australia Has Some Ugly Parts

I love to plan holidays/trips--maybe as much as going on the trip.  So, of course I made detailed plans for our time in Australia.   

I wasn't that bad-- didn't dictate hour by hour.   But for each day, I had something planned for us to do.  
My father taught me to be well-prepared and detailed, so I went on a website and wrote down directions to all our excursions--how to get there by bus or train or ferry or walking.

Unfortunately, something went wrong on our fourth day there.   Tim is nice and blames the website.   I have to say the website is probably fine.   I think I probably just plugged in the wrong information.

We were SUPPOSED to go to the Farmers Market in the Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park.  We got on the bus and things just went downhill.   I forgot exactly what happened--I mean where we went wrong.   I just know there was a lot of:

Do you think THAT'S it?   Are you sure we're going the right way?   Shouldn't we have gotten there by now?   Should we ask someone for help?

After about thirty minutes on the bus, we ended up getting off at some stop near Moore Park. Sadly, it was not the part of Moore Park that we had been looking for.  This was a mall.

We had our hopes; but we doubted the farmers market would be in there.   We stepped in and my delusions of Australia being all lovely and perfect were quickly shattered.

Malls in Australia are just as ugly and awful as malls in America.

They also have the same coin-eating kiddie rides--except in Australia they're much more expensive.

We were hungry and....Well, I was hungry.   I bought some disappointing bread from a condescending rude man--destroying my delusion that ALL Australians are super nice.   Now I'm down to believing only 99.9% of them are.  

After I ate the bread and we explored the super high prices of Australian toys, we began asking people how to get to the farmer's market thing.    I think we asked about three people before we were able to figure it out.   I'd like to say they gave us bad directions.   It's probably more like we're bad listeners, and not too smart.  

We ended up having to walk about two miles to get there.    And let's just say the landscape wasn't the lovely landscape they talk about in the tourist books.

We had to walk alongside a busy road.    It wasn't very beautiful and it definitely wasn't fun.



But the story does have a happy ending.

We finally found the Farmer's Market.   We ate good food, bought ice-cream from Santa Claus, talked to super friendly people, hung out with my cousin, and I found a new friend.   

It ended up being one of our best days and one of our favorite places.   But we had to go through hell to get there.






Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My Girl-Crush

I'm secure enough in my sexuality to admit that I have crushes on females.

My crush right now is Becky from McLeod's Daughters.   I think she's so beautiful--breathtaking. I swear.  I'm sometimes moved to tears when she just appears onscreen.

I love her character.  She's had a difficult life, but she's so strong and caring.  I like that she's not a pushover.  She knows how to fight back.   I wish I could be more like her.   And maybe it's therapeutic for me to see her.   Maybe she can be a role model for me.

Becky has her own little theme song.   The music played in McLeod's Daughters, for the most part, comes from one singer.  Rebecca Lavelle.   She sings the show's theme song, but she also has a specific song for various storylines and characters.   Anytime, an episode is centered around Becky, a song is played called "Don't Judge".

I love the song.

I wanted to download the song off of I-Tunes, but they don't have any Rebecca Lavelle songs.   Poo on them!

When I-Tunes doesn't have a song, I usually find a video on You-Tube that uses it.   I tried to find a McLeod's Daughter's video that has it, but I couldn't find one.   Instead, I found a Charmed video.  

Funny because those three witchy girls are my other female crushes.


Life Lessons in Aussie Films. Part II

Wow.

This is my first blog entry sequel.  

Okay.  

Anyway......

In college, my roommate posted a Eric Hoffer quote on the refrigerator.  "People Who Bite the Hand that Feeds them, usually lick the boot that kicks them."

I love that quote.   The main reason because it is so true and meaningful; but also because it reminds me of that awesome miniseries V.    There was this scene where the aliens made Daniel (the human who liked to kiss Alien ass) lick their boots.  Oh wait.  No.  Maybe Daniel was the bad guy and he made someone else lick HIS boots.

I can't remember.  I'm confused.

But anyway, this is about Muriel's Wedding.  Not V.

Did they have V in Australia?   I wonder if any Aussie actors were in it?

Oh no.  Now I can't get V out of my mind.

All right.   I need to get back on track!!!

Muriel's Wedding is about one young woman's quest for popularity and marriage.   And I'll just say she licks boots and bites hands.   I don't want to say more, because then I might be turning this into a spoiler post.

I deal with the biting hands and licking boots issue quite often.   Well, because I'm a human and I live on Earth.

I'm getting better at NOT biting the hand that feeds me.   Although this is hard at times because, sometimes (figuratively speaking) the hand feeds me poison.    This is a huge issue I'm dealing with now; and I just finished reading a book that put me somewhat at peace.   The book talks about how it is okay to have mixed feelings about people.   We can (at the exact same time) be angry at them and grateful for them.  We can thank them for the good they give us, but this doesn't mean we have to forgive them for the crap they have given us.

So....I'm learning not to bite--at least when they're feeding me something yummy and nutritious.  (again, I'm being SYMBOLIC here....although real food is appreciated as well)

As for not licking the boots that kick me.....Well, I wish I can say I've gotten better at this.   But I haven't.   

I promise that I'm not one of those people who prefer to be with people who treat me like crap. I swear on the future graves of the cast of V, that I prefer people who treat me well.   Really!

I think what happens is I get it into my head that someone is worth my time and attention.   I don't know.  Maybe I think they're cool.   Or I imagine we make a great match.   I imagine this great friendship with them.   I become attached to them--or at least the idea of them,  And then they treat me like crap and I let them.  I tell myself to let them go.   Let MYSELF go.   But I don't follow my own damn advice.  

I get into that awful cycle.   I jump when they need me.   Well, because I long for any type of attention from them.   And I repeatedly forgive them for not being there for me or for being cold and rude to me.

Why do we do these things to ourselves?

Why?   Why?   Why?

And that's why I love Muriel's Wedding.   Well, because the main character is all messed up like me.  

Will she learn her lesson?   I'm not telling.   Go see the movie.   Will I learn MY lesson?

I hope so!!





Don't lick her boots.  She's very bad!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Life Lessons from Aussie Movies

I haven't seen a lot of Australian films; but two I have seen and loved are Opal Dream and Muriel's Wedding.    For me, both films carry valuable life lessons.

Opal Dream is a beautiful film set in Cooper Pedy--a mining town where most residents live underground.

Young Kellyann has an intense relationship with her two imaginary friends, "Pobby" and "Dingan". She insists her friends are real and for her, they ARE real.

The reactions of her family and townspeople range from ridicule to a store clerk providing Pobby and Dingan with their favorite lollipops.  

When Pobby and Dingan go missing, the psychological and physical health of Kellyann deteriorates.  

For me, the film talks about belief and faith; but also about supporting other people's belief and faith--no matter how silly it may seem to us.  

The film hints (or is at least open to the idea) that Pobby and Dingan are actually real.  Perhaps some kind of spiritual entity?

Jack has imaginary friends, but from what I gather he does not actually believe they're real.   I think he understands that these characters are in his mind.   He doesn't seem to take them that serious.  It's a game--a stretch of the imagination.

But I do believe that some children interact with invisible entities that are real.  Maybe they see ghosts?  I don't know.   I'm guessing though that these children are rarely believed or taken seriously.

I am very spiritual and some of my beliefs might be seen as weird or blasphemous.    I don't demand that people believe what I believe, but I do want respect.  I don't want people trying to prove that what I believe isn't real.   I don't want anyone to laugh at my beliefs.

I guess what I want is:

a) to be heard
b) for the possibility of my beliefs to be at least entertained.

For example, I believe I have some kind of spiritual connection to Australia.  I don't expect everyone to agree with that.   But I want them to respect that I believe that; and I'd appreciate it if they considered it MIGHT be possible.

I'm fairly tolerant of most beliefs.   In my opinion, I can't know everything.   What I think of as being silly and impossible could actually be real.   I also think the important thing about beliefs and faith is that it brings someone comfort.    If someone beliefs that there is no God and no metaphysical world; if they believe science is the only answer.....I say if this makes them feel comfortable, then good!    If someone believes they are elves reincarnated into human bodies,  good on them!

Okay.  Well, this took up more space than I thought.   I think I'll continue with Muriel's Wedding tomorrow.


So.....

To be continued.


Monday, July 14, 2008

DANGER!!!!!!


That was my favorite sign in Australia.

I love the last line.

I was a bad girl and did swim alone.   Well, I wasn't totally alone.  There were other swimmers and lifeguards there.   We were good tourists and always swam between the flags.

I didn't have a buddy/mate with me though.

I'm not sure how "alone" is defined on that sign.  Does it mean swimming where no other human being is present.  Or does it refer to swimming without a partner?

I'm guessing it's safer to swim with a partner.  But I'm wondering if it makes that much of a difference.  Couldn't we end up drowning together?  Or what if my partner is having too much fun and doesn't notice the undertow has stolen me away?

If you hadn't guessed yet, I did end up surviving.  I didn't drown.

I was lonely though.   There was another person swimming alone.  I had this huge urge to go up to him and say Hey!  Let's be swimmates.   I was a bit too shy for that though.

The worst thing that happened on that solo swim was I got way too much salt water up my nose.  Now I can truly say I understand why people use saline solution drops.   I got a major nasal cleansing.

Snot was pouring out of me as I walked back to our cabin.   It was very embarrassing.   But fortunately I don't think anyone noticed.

See though?  If I had swam with a buddy, they would have ended up seeing all the snot.  I would have probably traumatized them for life.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

And The Green Grass Grew All Around

Lately, I've been accused of being one of those humans who are never satisfied.  I search for happiness and am never happy because I'm too busy searching.

The accusation is both right and wrong.

I am NEVER satisfied.  Very true.

But I am happy.   I have many happy moments in my life.  I even have some SUPER happy moments.

I count my blessings.

I think in terms of the grass-is-greener issue, people can be divided into three types.

1.  The Grass is totally fine and we have the best grass.    With these people, they see very little need for change.  Things are fine the way they are.  Their country is the best.  The government is fine.  The world is fine.   They go about their happy lives having fun and not worrying all that much   All is okay.   Life is great!   For a great example of this type of thinking, read this essay NOT written by Jay Leno

2. The Grass is great until I step foot on it.   With these people, they are rarely satisfied.   If I was like this, I'd insist on moving to Australia.  But once I got to Sydney, I'd realize this is not the place.   We need to try Melbourne.  Oops, not good either.  Let's go over to New Zealand.  

I mean I think it's fine to go from place to place because you like variety and don't want to stay in one place for long.  (this is actually my aspiration for later years)  But it's another thing all together to keep having high expectations and then leaving because your expectations aren't meant.   Although, who knows?   Maybe that person really DOES just have one specific happy place and they're having a hard time finding it.   It could happen.  

3. The grass is lovely, but some parts are dying and need to be fixed.  Also, I'd like to try some new breeds of grass.   This is where I'm at.   I am happy, but critical.  I have a mixture of idealism and realism.   I see how things are, but also see how they could be better.   I see problems in our world and try to imagine ways we could fix them.

I am happy with my life, but I want more.  I'm like Belle in Beauty and the Beast.    

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere
I want it more than I can tell
And for once it might be grand
to have someone understand
I want so much more than they've got planned

I often feel like a Disney Princess--although I'd need to lose about thirty pounds to LOOK like one.

I feel like Belle or naughty little Ariel.   

I'm grateful.  I'm happy.

But I want more.

I want more for myself.

I want more for the world.

I want more for my country.

I want more for my marriage.

I want more for my family.

If my wish to move to Australia, comes true, will that be the end to all this wanting?   Will I have my happily-ever-after?   Will I finally be at peace?

Hell no!

Hopefully, I'll love Australia and be satisfied with THAT.   But I'll come up with new dreams that need to be fulfilled.  Maybe I'll go back to wanting to get a book published.  Maybe I'll decide I want to be a zoologist.   Maybe I'll decide that I want to visit every single rural town in Australia.   Maybe I'll decide I want to create new weird cross-breeds of dogs.   

Who knows what it will be, but there will have to be SOMETHING!

I'll always want more, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate the grass in my own backyard.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Our Love For Fictional Australians

It is summer now in America.   And I think every summer, we develop special traditions.

Last year seemed to be about dragonflies and silly pool games.

This year, the silly pool games and dragonflies are still there--but they're less of a focus for us.

This summer's main themes are Mario Brothers, new household members, mass quantities of blueberries and bread (thanks to Tim and Costco), and McLeod's Daughters.

Every night, Jack, Tim, and I sit on the couch and spend time with Claire, Tess, Becky, Jodi, and Meg.   Sometimes, our housemate Tabitha and her dog Jasmine join us.   But Tabitha has had to study, so she's a few episodes behind.  

Jack is really into the show.  He knows all the characters and some of the names of the actresses.  

Yesterday, we sat by the pool together and played McLeod's Daughters trivia.   He did a good job answering questions, and came up with some good questions to ask me.

The other day, Jack was sick and we thought he might want to go to bed early.  I asked Jack and Tim if we should skip our evening viewing.  Jack quickly said, No.

The kid really loves the show.

I'm not sure what a 6 1/2 year old sees in the show.   Does he like the pretty women?  The animals?  The farm life?

Then again....why does a grown-up end up loving Miss Spider so much?   And why was I so into Charlie and Lola?

And The Koala Brothers!   I usually think that my Australia obsession has roots in some deep mysterious spiritual thingie....like a past life or something.   But in rare moments, I start to think maybe I just loved the Koala Brothers too much.   Sweet little Josie the kangaroo and that bratty little Possum Mitzi.  Lolly and her ice-cream truck.   Oh!   And the Koalas themselves--always ready to help a mate. Gotta love them.

Maybe I just wanted to live in a place where whenever I had a problem, two sexy marsupials would fly down in their plane and save me.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Animal Confusion

Not that I want to brag or anything (cause bragging is not embraced by traditional Aussie culture--the whole Tall Poppy Syndrome) but I'm going to do it anyway.

I know a lot about Australia. I've done my studying. Well, at least I know more than the average American. Although that's not saying much. Most Americans know very little about Australia.

Well, at least they know less than the typical Australian knows about America.

There are a few things I can't quite grasp though. For example, the previously mentioned states vs. territory. And it did take me awhile to understand the term "Oppositional Leader"--although I think I got it now. Well, actually I don't. But that's okay.

I don't know much about sports. Although I don't care, so I'm really not going to try. (sorry!)

But the thing I want to understand and can't grasp is the whole animal thing. I've been wondering about it for years--even before I had this obsession/passion for Australia.

What I want to know is how common is it to see a kangaroo and koala. I now know they're not like squirrels in NYC. You don't see kangaroos rushing across the street in Sydney. Although maybe it's different in the other cities?

Where I live (Texas) I divide animals into two groups

a) See them everyday. No big deal. At most, I might point it out to my son. "Look! A squirrel!"

b) Rare animals that we get excited about. We point it out excitedly to everyone....other adults, strangers, etc. An example of this would be the fox we saw in a park one day.

In Port Stephens, a small coastal town in New South Wales, a koala was spotted near the pool. A little girl walked around the pool area and told everyone that there was a koala. People got off their butts and walked over to see the koala--which you could barely see by the way. It was way up in the tree.

Now most of the people at this holiday park were from New South Wales. So, I came to the conclusion that seeing a koala is a rare treat. It's NOT like our squirrels. There was a few more koala sightings that week and each one attracted a group of excited children and adults.

We saw no wild kangaroos or wallabies on our trip/holiday. I also don't remember seeing any kangaroo warning signs on the roads; and we did see koala signs. So maybe Port Stephens is just not a kangaroo hangout.

But what about other places? I've seen pictures with a whole team of kangaroos hanging out at a golf course. Are scenes like this common? I know they cause enough nasty car accidents that people have "roo bars" on their cars. And I know kangaroos are not endangered......

So does that mean there are places in Australia, where kangaroos are like squirrels. Everywhere, all around, and not so exciting anymore?

Although squirrels and lizards are all around here and I still find them absolutely adorable. Especially the lizards!


The lizard we see a lot outside. I completely adore them. See? I do love SOME American things.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Migration vs. Visiting

There's a part of me that does NOT want to move to Australia.

Which part?

The lazy part.

I have moved so many times. I really don't want to do it again.

So, despite the fact that I'm tired of Texas and ready to move on (BECAUSE I've moved so much, I've grown to not like staying in one place too long. And we've been in Texas longer than any other place), there's a part of me that just wants to be lazy and stay put.

I don't want to pack and unpack again. I don't want to look for new doctors and dentists. I don't want to figure out new homeschooling laws.

Tim and I have both agreed that the BEST case scenario would be that one of us finds a career (probably him) where we can have the money and TIME to travel. It would be great to have a job where we have flexibility and freedom--where we can take a month or two and travel around Australia.

We could have the best of two worlds. Stay in Texas, but at the same time, LEAVE Texas.... at least for a few months out of the year.

That scenario IS possible. It could happen. But it's not the most likely thing to happen.

The worst case scenario is that we never go back to Australia again. That makes me very sad, but I don't think it would be the end of the world. I could still love Australia from far away. I'd probably be depressed though--at least most of the time. I'd also be full of regret.

I think the second best scenario (and VERY closely tied to the first) is that Tim finds a good Aussie job, I get over my laziness, and we move to Australia.

If we stay for at least four years, I can fulfill my dream of becoming an Australian citizen.

The bad, but not as bad as never scenario, is that Tim finds a crappy corporate job in Texas. It gives him enough money that we can go to Australia every 3-5 years, but we can only go for two weeks. Corporate American companies rarely give you that many weeks off.

Crap. Just writing that makes me depressed.

I really hope we can manage one of the better case scenarios.

Outside of my embarrassing laziness, I really would love to live in another country--whether it be for six months or five years. I think it would be an amazing experience--for me, for Tim, and for Jack.

I totally envy people when I hear their stories of moving to another country

My mother-in-law spent a chunk of her childhood in the UK. She loved it.

When I was a teenager, we had a woman from France stay with us. She would come to America on a business exchange program. I forgot how long she stayed, but it was for an extended period. I'm guessing she enjoyed it, because she returned and did it again.

I know of people who did high school foreign exchange programs. They loved it.

I think I would love it too. I really believe that. I know I wouldn't be happy everyday. There would be days of immense homesickness. There would be days of fear and regret. There would be days where I have a stomach virus and my butt hurts from sitting on the toilet so long.

But I think MOST days would be good days.

There's a part of me that imagines people reading this and thinking Dina is so selfish and greedy. She should be happy for what she has. There are people in the world who are starving, abused, and suffering in poverty.

There are people who wish not that they could travel to an exciting country, but that their sister would be cured of breast cancer.

In a way, I agree with these people who might think such things about me.

But I mostly disagree. I think life without dreams and hope is sad and boring.

I think we all have the right to wish and dream--no matter how far-fetched and difficult the dream might be.

And I think we have the right to pursue those dreams.

We do NOT have the right to expect support or encouragement. But I think every single one of us would appreciate it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Email from a Girl Who Has the Ability To Loves Both Her Family and a Country

I want to post a copy of an email I wrote to my whole family in January. I sent it a week after we returned from Australia--it was in response to comments they made on my OFOTO pictures.

I'm posting my email because it somewhat explains my feelings for Australia and the whole issue of separating from loved ones.

Is migration about rejection and abandonment? Or is it about adventure, following your dreams, and embracing opportunity?

Anyway, here's the email. (The stuff in bold is currently added comments and was not in the original email)

I wanted to respond to some of your comments and questions: (the comments on Ofoto)

MELISSA (my younger sister) : I forgot, what is so important about the bridge except you can climb it? I still smile every time I read this. My sister is too cute sometimes.

Answer: Well, the most important thing is (like most bridges) it helps people get from point a to point b. Before that, the only way people could travel to North Sydney (and beyond) was by ferry. And besides that, it's tall and pretty. Makes for a good landmark.

DAWN: (my older sister) Australian or American travelers? She's referring to a picture of us with some other people.

ANSWER-Australian and the visiting family was from the UK....I think? I think maybe they were in the process of emigrating. Or they already did. Tim might be more clear on that. There were no Americans as guests at the park. It was a VERY local kind of place. I actually saw very few people from even outside the state (New South Wales). We definitely stood out as the "cool foreigners" and probably got more attention because of it. Now that I look back we probably stood out as the freaky Americans--not cool foreigners.

DAD: think its time for you to also visit Yellowstone, the Blue Ridge and Smokies..and while you are at it, visit the coastal towns of Northern Maine...and then travel and experience the southern coast of Italy, France and Spain . So much to see. Oh, don't forget the Bavarian Elps. Glad you are beginning to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings. There was a time when I remembered you being at times oblivious to all of this natural and man made beauty. So this all very good! This was my political commercial!

Answer: We might visit those places. We might not. As we talked about before, I'm more interested in spending quality and quantity time at places rather than checking off a checklist of famous places I need to visit.

I would rather have tons of fun and truly experience a different culture....than add new places to my travel resume.

Yes. I do love the Opera House and Bridge. Mostly for some kind of mysterious spiritual reason that I can't and won't try to explain. But that is rare for me. I usually have very little interest in famous landmarks. And I doubt that will ever change.

I'm more into enjoying the simple things in life. A fly on a leaf. Watching Jack and a little boy play monster on the playground. Seeing Jack and four little girls slide down a water slide together. Watching an adorable little boy take twenty minutes to savor and eat one damn little cookie. Witnessing a bunch of Australians get super excited about a koala in a tree. Chatting with an indigenous Australian. Visiting a favorite animal attraction so many times that we have the order of the exhibits practically memorized.

It's hard for me to explain my love for Australia. I like to compare it to a romantic love for a boy/girl. First I had a crush (before we went) and now I'm in love. Talking to me about visiting other countries and appreciating other places is like telling a young woman in love that she should see other people before getting engaged.

Since Tim just likes to travel period and since Australia (like the United States) has such a wide variety of landscapes...he is fine using Australia as our destination. He is pretty sure that like all my obsessions, this one will pass and we won't have to go to Australia every year for the rest of our lives. He may be right. He might be wrong. If he's right, hopefully the next place I have a love affair with will be closer by---like Tyler Texas.

I personally would much rather spend several months or a few years living in one country than traveling to all the famous must-see countries around the world.

I think it would be an amazing, wonderful, and incredible experience to live in Australia for awhile. This would be a complete dream come true for me. Since from when we first got together, I think Tim and I have talked about our desire to live in another country for awhile. And now that I've fallen in love with Australia, the issue is definitely one we're seriously considering.

I would appreciate everyone trying to understand and support our decision. There was once a time where moving to Australia was saying good-bye forever to your family. You go and that's it. Families completely lost touch with each other.

Life has changed. There's email. Video phone. Cheap long distance. (for people who actually live there....not tourists at hotel). And a 14 hour plane ride is really not that long.

Now who knows what the job situation is. We might not be able to find anything that works for Tim. So it might be a mute point. But if we do find something interesting, we are probably going to go for it.

Jack, like most children, is a little weary about such a big change. He's very attached to his cousins. And the rest of you guys as well. On the other hand, he's not heartbroken about the idea and does seem interested.

I was very upset last night and felt guilty for wanting something that "might hurt Jack" so much. I said with my usual drama. I don't want to take Jack away from his cousins! Tim did a good idea of calming me down. It would be one thing if I said "You can never see your cousins again!" But a several-month separation is fine.

I started thinking today that any relationship you have that prevents you from venturing out on adventures is probably not a healthy one. One thing I regret about my teen years is that I did not take the opportunity to travel. Do an exchange program. Hell, I didn't even go on the damn high school spring break trips or field trips to D.C. Why? I was afraid I'd miss mom and dad too much. I really wish I had done those things back then. I wish I had understood that yes, I'd get homesick. Yes, I'd miss my family. But the experience would likely be wonderful and my family would be waiting for me when I got home.

Anyway, if it does become a reality....I would like people to be positive about it around Jack. Remind him of how much fun he'll have. Promise to keep in touch. Reassure him that he'll talk to his cousins. Perhaps change (or add additional) birthday party dates so Jack won't have to miss any.

P.S-back to the travel style thing. There was actually an article about it in Tim's new travel magazine. It's supposed to be the new "In" thing now. They call it "slow travel-- influenced by the desire to stop rushing through life. It talks about spending long periods of time in one place...rather than jumping around. Such as instead of going to a cruise to the Bahamas...spending a week on one island. Or spending six weeks in a city in Spain rather traveling throughout Europe.

I will admit I'm a little jealous of Melissa and Fred....going to Cairns and Uluru. But I'm glad we did what we did. We'll hopefully get to those places someday. If not....so be it. I'll just photoshop myself onto Melissa's and Fred's pictures.

So that is the email.

I want to end this post with a quote from Hodding Carter:

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.

And I would add to that, the genuine blessing to take flight.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Is Anyone Happy Because of a Drought?

This is the news headline I saw in the Sydney Morning Herald Yesterday:

Farmers depressed by big dry: report
Australia's farmers are both poorer and more depressed as a result of the drought, according to a major new report on the impact of the big dry.

Isn't that kind of stating the obvious?

I mean I'm no expert on farming and droughts, but I have enough basic knowledge to know that plants need water to grow. And if the plants aint growing, the farm will probably not be doing so well.

I think it's also obvious that if your source of income is in jeopardy--if your life and home are in jeopardy; it's very likely you'll be depressed.

Although I DO have a degree in psychology. Maybe the average person can't put two and two together like that; and they need a study and news report to make it clear. (being sarcastic here)

I think I'd be more intrigued by a news article that said Study Shows Farmers are Happy because of a drought. At least, that would be surprising. I'd really be interested in reading about why a farmer is happy that his crops are probably going to fail.

It would probably be better to focus on dealing with water issues than trying to figure out the psychological state of farmers.

This is not the first article I've seen like this. I've seen similar stuff in American Newspapers. There's stuff about how Americans are depressed because of 9/11 or have post-traumatic stress disorder. And these articles were written less than a year after the event. Are we really supposed to be surprised?

I'd be honestly surprised if a large group of people were STILL depressed about it. But so soon after? Of course, most of us were depressed and scared.

Of course, farmers are depressed about a drought.

Bad things happen and people get sad.

I don't think we need a study to prove that to us.


The Girls of Drover Run

We are totally into McLeod's Daughters. The three of us (sometimes 4 of us) watch it every night. It has become a family tradition.

Like with any TV show, that includes multiple characters, there is the tendency to wonder "Which character am I most like?" Or maybe that's just me? Probably not though since there ARE multiple quizzes online.

Which Lostie are you? Which Charmed one are you? Which Desperate Housewife are you?

So, which girl on Drovers Run am I? Which one are you?

There's:

Claire-Very serious. Workaholic. Full of pride. Doesn't like to accept help. Strong morals. Set in her ways. Not very warm. Rough exterior. Very capable.

Tess-Outgoing. Friendly. Spiritual. Nosy. Pushy. Questions everything. Tries to change things. Wants to save the world. Often makes a fool of herself.

Jodi-Lazy. Hates working. Spoiled. Often puts her foot in her mouth. Cute. Fun. Full of life.

Becky-Heroic. Brave. Strong. Thoughtful. Caring. Helpful.

I wish I was like Becky. I think Becky is incredibly awesome. I have a bit of a girl-crush on Becky. But I'm not like Becky--unfortunately.

I'm not really like Jodi--at least not on a regular basis.

Tim thinks I'm like Claire. And I don't completely disagree. There are times when I feel like a Claire. I guess it's with certain people. Certain people bring out my inner Claire.

Usually though, I feel like a total Tess. I can be a bit shy--at times. But other times I'm outgoing. I'm usually friendly. I think? I'm pushy about my beliefs. I'm definitely spiritual. And the big thing is I'm incredibly nosy.

There was one episode in which Tess reminded me so much of myself. There was some bad history in their neighbor's family; a skeleton in the closet that no one talked about. Tess brought it up at dinner and persisted on pursuing the conversation--despite the people looking uncomfortable. Then later she couldn't just let it go. She had to call up the family and offer her apologies. When her apology was not met with welcome and warmth, she brought over flowers. She would not give up.

This is so much like something I would do.

I think the thing about Tess is she hates to be disliked. And this is like me. Some people can do the old Her loss! I don't care if she doesn't like me. I can't. Well, I try. But it BUGS me when people dislike me. And instead of backing away, I go all Tess on them.

I have some Claires in my life. And nothing makes me bring out my inner Tess more than being around these Claires. If these people toned down their inner Claires, I would probably end up toning down my inner Tess.

Anyway.....

In other Drover Run news.....The actress who plays Claire (Lisa Chapelle) reminded me so much of someone and I couldn't figure out who. Tonight, I finally figured it out.

Liesel from the Sound of Music!!!!

Compare the pictures!!!









Okay, actually the pictures are not that good. I couldn't find any good ones. But go see for yourself. Watch McLeod's Daughters and then watch Sound of Music. And no, not just to compare the two actresses. They're both awesome shows to watch. Pity thee who does not know the joy of Christopher Plummer singing "Edelweiss" to his estranged family.