Monday, April 13, 2009

Day which I have one of the best days of my whole life

I had about four hours of sleep that night.Link
I had really wanted to go to the Harbour Swimming Race.

It was important to me.

I thought of skipping it and trying to fall back asleep. But I felt I'd have huge regrets if I didn't go to the race. I hadn't arranged for us to be in Sydney during the race, but it ended up that way. I felt I had some kind of weird spiritual connection to this race, and here we were in Sydney while it was happening. Really? How could I seriously consider not going?

Like Annie promises, the morning sun did chase some of my sorrow and cobwebs away. I felt a tiny bit better.

By the time I got to the harbour, I felt a lot better. I think long walks are one of the best cures for depression and drama...especially when you're walking through somewhere beautiful. I walked through the Royal Botanical Gardens. I had left early and could take my time. There was hardly anyone else there. Oh! It was so peaceful. At one point, I sat alone among rose bushes and read my book.

When I reached the Harbour, I at first mistook one of the Mardi Gras events for the race. I don't think the event was happening yet. I think they were just setting up. Anyway, I realized my mistake and found the race. It was where it should be: near the Opera House.

There were a lot of people sitting on the grass. I took a seat among them. I felt a bit lonely and misplaced. I saw other people sitting with their family and friends. I'm a loner at times, but there are also times where I don't want to be alone. There are times when I prefer to be with a group.

I read my book. I listened to the race announcements and waited for it to start. I watched children sell raffle tickets. The prizes seemed to be ones that would work only for people who actually live in Australia. I wondered, if asked, whether I should buy tickets anyway. I figured I probably should and would. But if they didn't come over to me, I'd just consider myself off the hook. Lucky for me....they never came over.

Ronald McDonald was there. People were getting their pictures taken with him. I found it all incredibly creepy. That clown scares me. I did take one or two photos of him myself though. From far away!!!! There's no way I'd purposely go near that thing. It's all way too Pennywise for me.

The first race was for charity and featured celebrity swimmers. I don't watch any sports. I don't pay attention to the Olympics. I had no idea who any of these people were. Yet I was excited. I had my spiritual reasons. And then a very dark sick part of myself hoped to see some shark action. No, I didn't want anyone to die. But I figured a lost foot or two wouldn't be so awful. Look how awesome Adam Hills is. The shark thing would benefit all of us. I'd have great stories to share on my blog. The shark would have a yummy meal. And the victim would be an instant celebrity. Yeah, so they're missing a limb. Really? Is that so horrible. Think of the book deals they'd get!

No such luck though.....

Truth be told. I couldn't even see the swimmers. I got my ass off the grass and walked over to the water. I still couldn't see. I figured I'd be able to see as they got closer to the Opera House. But then my phone rang. It was Jack. He was crying for me to come home. I think he was still sad about the night before. I told him I'd be home as soon as possible. I left immediately because as much as I wanted to watch the race, I wanted to hug my child more.

I took the train home. As I walked to Goulburn, I saw blood on the sidewalk. At least, it looked like blood. No shark attacks, but at least I get this. Seriously though.... hopefully, nothing horrible happened to anyone.

I gave Jack love and attention. Then we made plans with Tracey and her family. We decided to start off at the Rocks Market. Jack wanted to see the food and wine festival in Hyde Park, so the two of us left a little early. At first we were disappointed because all we could see was wine. It seemed to be more of a wine festival than food one. But finally we found the big row of food stands. I let Jack get some ice-cream. Yeah. I'm a bad mom.

Tim, Tracey, Tyrone, and Tara met us in the park. Molly and Alex were going to shop and meet us at The Rocks later.

The six of us took the train to Circular Quay. Before we went to the market, Tracey showed us this awesome puppet shop. She remembered it from her own childhood. It's one of the best toy stores I've ever been to. Their stuff is beautiful, and the prices actually seem fairly reasonable.

A few years back, Jack had wanted a Russian nesting doll. I had wanted to buy one for him but never did. I decided here was my chance. I asked if he still wanted one, and I said I'd buy it. He wouldn't have to use his allowance. He graciously took me up on the offer.

We then went to the market.

It was fun. We bought more calories and had some free sample calories.

Tracey was a bit stressed about certain things. No, I don't like seeing my friends unhappy. But in a way, it made me feel even more comfortable around her. It made me feel better about my own problems. I felt more normal...less of a freak. She told me how she was feeling and I confessed that I had a horrible night. I told her how Tim and I had fought. She was very understanding and sympathetic. It was a huge relief to be able to tell her that. I felt the bond between us was growing even stronger.

There was a lot of fun stuff to see at the markets and in the stores around there. We spent time in an Irish store. Jack and I went to this psychic store called Argyle Oracle. My friend Jamie talks about going to these types of shops a lot. I'm a bit envious sometimes, because I don't run into them much. But here was my chance. I looked around the shop, but I didn't buy anything. In all honesty, I hadn't been feeling all that spiritual lately. Well, I DID rush to a swimming race because it reminded me of a past dream. But besides that....I was just living my life and having fun. I wasn't putting much thought and effort into the metaphysical.

I liked the store though. And maybe in some ways, it pulled me back into the spiritual. I hope so. I like all that. I don't want to lose that part of myself.

We split up with Tracey's family for a little while, because they needed more time at the Rocks.

We decided to meet them at Hyde Park. We'd all have lunch at the food and wine festival. I talked to Gina. She was going to meet us there too.

Tim, Jack, and I waited for all of them.

At one point, things got a bit crazy. Gina was trying to text me so she could find me in the park. Tracey was trying to call to tell us they were coming. And at the same time, my phone was giving me warnings that my balance was too low. I was trying to do many things at once and failing miserably.

It all worked out though. Soon my phone had more money on it. And I sat on a hill with my family and friends. It's one of the best moments of my life. Honestly. I had so much fun. I don't know what it was about those few hours. Tara and Jack played so beautifully together. They ran. They rolled down the hill. They played with their Russian dolls. I think someone said they overheard them saying their dolls were getting married.

We ate yummy food.
We talked.
We laughed.

Everyone seemed happy and peaceful.

The world can never be perfect.

But there ARE perfect moments.

This is mine.

At one point, Gina and Tracey said something about my blog. It was very sweet. I forgot exactly what they said. I think it was along the lines of it being weird not being able to read my blog everyday. Maybe they said they missed it. Maybe they didn't and I'm having delusional compliments. But anyway.... I sat there thinking that although I love my blog, I'd trade it in for this in a second. I thought wouldn't it be awesome if we all lived here? What if we did this every weekend? No, Hyde Park doesn't have a food and wine festivals every Sunday But we could have weekly picnics in the park.

Could life ever be that great?

I don't know.

And I do love this blog. I love my internet friends. I love how we email each other. I love how we comment on each other's blogs. But I think I love being with them in person more. I like seeing them. I like hearing them laugh.

On the bright side though....the best thing about this blog is it brings new friends into my life. And maybe these new internet friends will also become real life friends. That's the beauty of it.

At the park, we tried to figure out what we wanted to do next. Tim and I had shared a crazy plan together earlier that day. We wanted to go to the Outback Steakhouse. This is one of America's awful chain restaurants. The Outback Steakhouses I had been to really had nothing to do with real Australia. They're silly and full of ridiculous stereotypes.

Last year, Tim and I found out they actually have Ouback Steakhouses in Australia. We learned this from Michelle. Her husband had his birthday dinner there. We though that was absolutely hilarious. Tim and I joked that one day we should go there. Then we decided...wouldn't it be hilarious if we went with Australians? That would make it even funnier.

We asked Tracey and her family if they'd be interested in going. We tried to explain how ridiculous and stereotyped it was. We didn't want them to be shocked.

I think they share our crazy sense of humor. They wanted to go.

With only four hours of sleep and my belly full with food fair stuff, I can't say I was too excited to go to dinner. I kind of felt we should skip dinner and have an early night. But really? How could we pass up the chance to take our Australian friends to an Outback Steakhouse. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Getting there was a pain. We had to walk to Central Station which wasn't that close. Then we had to wait thirty minutes for a train.

When we got there, the joke was on me and Tim. The damn place wasn't that ridiculous. It ended up being fairly nice. The decor was much more subtle then I remember. There wasn't really Aussie food on the menu, but the food was pretty okay. At least the others seemed to like it. I think I just had a salad....not much for vegetarians there. Or maybe I had steamed veggies? I don't know. It was fine.

We all shared a Bloomin Onion. Tim took a classic photo of us all reaching in to grab a piece.

We had such a great time. Tim and I had fun talking to Molly and Alex about various things; mostly accents and music. Alex did a great job imitating American accents. Tim did an awful job at imitating the Australian accent. I loved the expression on Alex's and Molly's face. They looked traumatized, asking. Do we really sound like that?
I assured them that they definitely did not.

I was too shy to do my own imitation. I rarely can do it on demand anyway.

On the walk to the train station, I had a great conversation with Alex. He introduced me to theLink world of showbags. I had never heard of such a thing, but now I'm enlightened.

Alex was absolutely shocked that Americans didn't have these things. It turns out Americans have very deprived childhoods. Hey! But maybe not anymore. I just found this website.

Alex rushed to tell Molly about how we didn't have showbags. She was as shocked as Alex.

We had another thirty minute wait at the train station.

I hate waiting at train stations.

I hate waiting at airports.


An important life lesson was brought home to me in that time period.

You can go to the most beautiful beach in the world. You can sit there with the sun setting. But if you're with someone you don't like, it's not all that great.


You can be in an ugly place where there's no where to sit and it looks dirty; the type of place that makes you want to rush home and take a shower. But if you're with people you love.....

Oh. I had so much fun at the train station.

Tara and Jack were being silly. Tara was imitating Janice from Friends and saying purple with an American accent. Then she and Jack did an inappropriate dance that embarrassed us all. Someone noticed Jack's nesting doll had a weird cherry scent. We sat there passing around a doll; taking turns sniffing it.

Jack impressed Alex by knowing some of the Aussie National Anthem. Alex was a bit confused though on why this American child knows the Aussie Anthem and not the American one. I don't think he realized how weird our family is, and how I'm totally obsessed with Australia.

It all sounds pretty dumb when I write about it, but I had so much fun.

On the train, Tyrone disappeared. He was there and the next thing I know he wasn't. There were rumors he had hopped off the train to use the toilet. He reappeared again so I guess that hadn't happened. I asked him where he had gone and he told me. But now I forgot what he said.

Oh, here's something bad. I still feel awful when I remember this. At one point, we were running to a train. The train was there and we had to get to the bottom of the steps. Tim was ahead and already on the train. I rushed to get on with him. Jack was behind me with Tracey. I got on the train without my child. I can't believe I did that.

Tracey had him with her. He was safe. But I still feel I should never have stepped on that train without having my child with me.

I don't know.

I try seeing it in a positive way. It must mean that deep inside I have full faith in Tracey, and I trust her enough to help me take care of my child.

Still though. I kept having images in my all getting on the train and the doors closing before Jack could get on. That scares the shit out of me.

Oh well.

It takes a village, right?

Besides that little trauma and my lack of sleep, I had a day I never want to forget.

I wish I had photographs but I really don't need them.

I have pictures in my mind.

And this song. A cliche by now, but I still love it.


  1. I'm sitting here late at night with tears rolling down my cheeks :-) It was one of the best days EVER! I loved it as much as you did. From start to finish. Even if I was a bit stressy at the market. Molly was panicking because the atm machine had eaten her card and she needed me and I was at the other end of the city. It made me feel as though letting them have that freedom was wrong, even though I knew that they were ok. That's why I wanted to stay at the market until they got there and let them wander and give her some hugs and love. Whilst you were making your way back to Hyde Park we sat at that old pub on the corner and drank 'schooners' whilst the kids had bitters, lemonade and lime (Tara had water of course). The teenagers, wandered a bit whilst we sat and soaked up the atmosphere. They came back and we sat around laughing and talking before heading back to Hyde Park. I LOVED the festival. The music (Jimmy Barnes' daughter was playing at one point), the music - ohh that dessert you got that we all shared what was that again? And the wine. I was quite tipsy I think by the end of it all. The weather was perfect and I was so happy to meet Gina as I knew how much you liked her and was eager to meet her too. Laughed at the sunbakers..that was WEIRD! Yes the Babushka dolls did get married that day ;-)

    And the Outback..well I really LOVED my meal. We all did. We had sooo much fun that night too. As tired as we were it was just awesome and yes the waiting at the train station that night was lots of fun.

    And what story of ours wouldn't be complete without a shoe shop element attached to it?! Here we were, having such a wonderful time, sitting in the park eating and drinking and there was Molly, hassling me. "Mum can we go and buy the shoes now? I need to go NOW" Ugghh. I just wanted it over and done with so I left you all (sob sob) for a while and bought the damn shoes so it would be all over and done with. Readers will now note, neither Dina or I have any more shoe related stories to tell :-D


  2. Gee Dina. I can only imagine what the day was like, but it sounds like it was very full on. Pleased it worked well for you, not matter how much hard work it was.

  3. Tracey: When Jack and Tara are teenages, I'll probably be the one who's worried all the time. You'll calm me down and say "Don't worry. I've been through this already." At least I hope it's like that. Who knows? The second one is probably as scary as the first.

    I think though I'd feel exactly like you if Jack was the teen. I'd think he needs/deserves to have freedom. But at the same time, I'd be really worried. And if something went wrong, I'd feel guilty.

    I think we're so much alike. Although I'm sure a lot of moms feel the same way.

    And I have total empathy with you about wanting to stay at the market and give Molly lots of hugs.

    A part of me feels bad we didn't stay with you guys. But maybe it was for the best. Maybe we each needed that time with our own families.

    I forgot what the name of the dessert was. Gina might remember. It was from Peru though.

    I remember you and Molly going to get the shoes. And I remember you being annoyed about that.

    I still think the shoes have some kind of symbolism.

    Well, maybe not. But if this was all a short story, I picture the Lit. teacher asking the class. "So what do the shoes symbolize?"

    Anyway. I miss that day! I hope we have lots of days like that in Hawaii.

    Andrew: Thank you : ) It was really a great day.

  4. Showbags are awesome. I'm not sure about this, but I think under the law it's actually considered a form of neglect if you go to a show and don't buy your chidlins a minimum of three showbags. But I could be mistaken.

    It's amazing how big the various shows are here. I guess they're like County Fairs in the US, but hyper-sized. And with showbags. At least the capital city ones are hyper-sized.

    Those American showbags are a nice try, but I think we Australians are rather spoilt by comparison. And we get non-chidlin showbags, too, for us adults.

    Best showbag evah! is for Bertie Beetle. And the Germans may love David Hasselhoff, but where else in the world could you get this?

  5. Stephen,

    I am so intrigued by these showbag things. And JEALOUS.

    There are so many choices.

    I have to go back to the website and look through them. This shall keep me busy for awhile. I'm wondering if there's a "Lost" bag.

    I'd probably want one with tons of candy though.

  6. Yes, you can't beat a good show bag that is for sure! I think the shows that happen in the capital cities are much like your State Fairs only with Show Bags. Do you have animals as well? They are traditionally agricultural 'showcases' of the best animals. So there is judging for the best breed of particular cows, sheep, etc. There are dressage horse riding events, dog breeding events and so on. There are also competitions for craft - quilt making, cake decorating etc. It sounds lame but at the city ones that craft is absolutely amazing! There are also big food halls where you can sample 'food' and of course show bags!!! Ohh and rides.

  7. Tracey,

    I want to go! My problem is I don't want to come to Australia when it's cold!!

    I wish they had some in the summer somewhere. Or is it always a Spring/Autumn thing?

    I WILL have to go to one someday.

    We have fairs. I don't think they're very....

    Oh what's the right word?

    I can't think of a way NOT to be offensive.

    Well, so here we go....

    In the US, I think of them as being sort of redneck affairs. I guess it probably depends on what state you're in.

    I went to one in Tennessee and they were selling NAZI stuff at one of the stands.

    I picture the Sydney/Melbourne one as being less like that.

    I was looking at Not Quite Nigella. She has a lot of pictures from the Easter show and it does NOT look like the State Fair we have in Texas. There are a few things that look kind of the same. But the Sydney one looks much more classy.

    When we were young, we had city carnivals that we loved. They were traveling type things and would stop in our city once a year. It was the type of thing that you love as a child, but appreciate less as an adult. You know all the fried food, expensive games, spinning rides, etc. I don't remember them having crafts or good food. But maybe I just didn't notice that as a child???

    Maybe I'm being biased, but I feel the Australian fairs might be better.

    We do have agricultural stuff at some of the fairs. I know the Tennessee one did. I can't remember if the Texas one had it though.

  8. Want to add:

    The fairs in America might be very similar to Australia. It could just be my own prejudices that make me see a different.

    I think just in terms of geography, there's going to be differences in culture and what type of people attend the event.

    And not that one group of people is superior to another....I just don't feel I fit in well with the culture of a Tennessee or Texas fair.

    Am I trying to be too politically correct here? Probably.

  9. Isn't it so weird to hear how other people enjoy reading your blog-- I don't know why it's so nice, but it is.

  10. Hi Dina, sounds like you had a great day and what better way then to spend it with family and friends.

    I loved the Sydney Easter Show as a kid, especially loved the showbags and always got the bags with heaps of lollies. I also loved going to see the animals, and the hugh displays of the produce from the different regions in NSW, it was always such a fun day.

  11. Laura: I love when people read my blog. I need that validation...those self-esteem issues.

    Matt: I want a showbag. They look so fun. We never had these at our fairs. Americans are all deprived.

  12. I'd love to go to an American Fair. I went to the Easter Show this past weekend and it was so much fun but then a friend shower me a pic of a fair she went to and that looked fab!

  13. I really enjoyed that afternoon too.

    The Peruvian dessert was called "Picarones". I am not clever enough to have remembered that - I googled....

    I drove past your Outback Steakhouse at Homebush on the weekend & thought of you and Tracey's family trekking out there that night :)

  14. There can be a redneck element to some shows here :-) Not all though. you can't visit whilst one is on here? Simple, this year we shall bring the show to you. I'll send you, Tim and Jack some showbags in the post in October when our show has been and gone :-)


  15. No showbags??? *gasp* That is a very sad state of affairs indeed. I LOVE them!!! I'm like a big kid when it comes to showbags. We don't get to the big shows very often though.

  16. No showbags??? *gasp* That is a very sad state of affairs indeed. I LOVE them!!! I'm like a big kid when it comes to showbags. We don't get to the big shows very often though.

  17. Lorainne: I saw the photos on your site (love your photography, btw) and the Sydney fair looks so much better than what I remember of the American fairs. Maybe it's a grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side thing? I need to go to the Texas fair this year. I haven't gone in so long.

    Gina: I would have believed you were that clever. I have you up way too high on a pedestal.

    Thanks for thinking of us while you passed the Outback Steakhouse.

    Tracey: That's awesome!!! I'd love a showbag. I think instead of mailing it, you could just bring them to Hawaii. We could all play Showbag in Hawaii. You're very sweet.

    I find Aussie rednecks (bogans) more endearing than the American ones. I think it's just the accents though. Although Earl (do you get that show there?) is adorable.

    Lightening: Thank you for your sympathy. I think in this case I TOTALLY deserve it.