Friday, April 15, 2011

School holidays, Avoiding Tragedy, Speaking Up, and St. Kilda.

1. Considered that since it's 11:48 and I still haven't written anything, I could say my blog is tagging along with the whole Day of Silence thing.  Students are being silent at school; I guess not in Australia since it's Saturday there.  Did Australians do it yesterday?  Or maybe Australians are on Autumn break?  And yes, I just accidentally wrote "Spring Break".  I had to fix that.    

Anyway, I figured it was morally depraved to use a good cause as an excuse for my temporary case of writer's block.

For those who don't know about the Day of Silence thing, kids at school are going to refuse to talk while at school.  I'm looking at the website now.  I guess it's just an American thing. Well, it's an American website and they're calling it the NATIONAL day of Silence, not international.

I'm not sure how I feel about the event. They say the silence is a way to make a stand against bullying—draw attention to the issue.  I kind of thought the issue was already getting a lot of attention.  It's all over the news.

Personally, I think a better event would be 365 days of NOT being silent. This is where people speak up and defend those who are bullied.  

2. Looked at the school calendar for Australia.  NSW kids are having a holiday now. What about the others?   

Northern Territory kids are back in school...I think. They get a very short Autumn holiday.

South Australians are just beginning their holiday.  

Victorian kids are on holiday.

Western Australians will be starting their holidays in a few days.

ACT students will have started their holiday yesterday...I think.

Tasmanians will start their break in a few days.

Queensland students start their break today.

I'm pretty sure all of the above applies only to state schools.  I'm sure it varies among independent ones.

It varies a lot in America.  One of my nieces had her break in the middle of March. Her sister still hasn't had her break.  I'm not sure when that's happening.  Maybe next week?  She's at a Jewish school, so it will likely coincide with Pesach.

3. Changed my whole Harry Potter storyline; I mean for my Harry Potter blog.  Really bad things were going to happen to my characters; and they were going to happen in Australia.  Then we were driving to the lake house today, and I suddenly thought there is no way I can do that.  My characters would end up associating Australia with the bad thing that happened.  They would end up hating Australia, and that just wouldn't be right.  So I've decided to change things around and not give my characters a life of tragedy.

Plus, it made me think. What if someone in some alternate universe is writing MY story. What if I'm just a character in a novel?  If they had a big tragedy planned for my life, it would be really nice if they changed their mind.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not giving my characters happy perfect lives. The bad things are still going to happen–just to a lesser degree.   Originally, the bad stuff was going to happen at the end.  Then I was going to do a quick epilogue about how it all turned out sort of okay in the end. I realized that was cheap writing. So, now I'm going to give them problems, but actually have them work to overcome them.

More importantly, Australia will be a positive in the story rather than a negative.

It's not like I ever wanted Australia to be the bad place.  It's really two separate things.  I loved the idea of having my characters in Australia.  I came up with a brilliant tragedy for them (or so I believed). And since the characters were in Australia, the tragedy had to happen there.  

4. Read a story on the Day of Silence Facebook Page that gave me a bit of a tear.   Curtiss Coleman says, Instead of staying silent all day, I decided to take different action. I made a new gay friend, and hung around him and his friends for a big part of the day. Instead of staying silent, I didn't use any slurs, put downs, or any homophobic name calling. I stood up for my new group of friends when Haters called them names and picked on them. "Instead of staying silent, I was their voice" 

That's beautiful.


As for the people who did choose silence, I'm looking at their stories and I've gained some respect for the whole event.  I pictured almost all the kids doing it; one of those follow the herd things.  It's like when women announced their bra colors as Facebook statuses to fight breast cancer; and people
changed their profile photos to cartoon characters to fight against child abuse. They're fun activities, but pretty much empty gestures in terms of making changes in the world.   

Anyway, it seems this activity wasn't popular at many schools. Some of these students were one of a few to participate; and I think that takes courage.  It's easy to stand up for a cause when almost everyone else is standing up for it.  It's takes much more courage to stand up for a cause alone; or almost alone.

Here is Brittny Rose Wilsing's story:

I participated today, and got yelled at by my history teacher who humiliated me in front of the whole class. When the last bell rang I walked up to her and asked "Why is it that you can skip your job, and go down to Madison to protest against Scott Walker's bill because you wanted money, but when students participate for a good cause, we get ridiculed by the teachers for it? Tell me how that's fair at all." She had no response. I made it today, regardless of what people said. And I'm proud of it.

She should be proud; not just for her silence, but for standing up to a mean teacher.   

5. Thought more about what I wrote yesterday about tourism.  I think I sounded a bit silly...maybe hypocritical.  I don't believe in going to places I'm not interested in just to say I've been there.  But of course we're not going to miss the Opera House and Buckingham Palace!

I feel the need to explain myself.  I guess what I feel is if you go to a major city, and an important building or site is there, it's a bit crazy not to take at least a quick look at it.  Now when I say quick look, I mean pretty quick. I think for our London holiday, we took about 10-20% of our time looking at traditional tourism places. The rest of the time we just hung out, relaxed, and saw the stuff that WE were truly interested in. 

When we got back to America, my cousin's husband helped us to realize all the important stuff we missed.  Did you see the crown jewels?   Did you see this?  Did you see that?  I think he was pretty unimpressed with our adventures.  But see we were more interested in Harry Potter and the Beatles than we were with Royalty and government. We did brief visits to Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London at night.   From a bridge we saw Big Ben and Parliament. We liked seeing those places, but weren't interested in them enough to spend hours at each place. We spent the rest of the time doing stuff that truly interested us, or interested some of us. 

I guess what I'm saying is there are some places I feel obligated to see even if I'm not that interested.   So I'll go see them...maybe out of guilt and pressure.  But I won't spend too much time on them.

6. Realized that there's nothing in Melbourne I feel the need to see out of obligation.   Everything I have on our agenda is stuff I feel all of us(or some of us) want to see.   I don't much like museums, but Jack loves them.  I'm not into going to the top of tall buildings, but Jack often likes that. If he changes his mind, we'll cross that off the list. Tim and I don't like it much.

7. Asked Jack if he's still likes the whole tall building thing.  He said no, not really; seems very indifferent to the whole thing. We'll probably cross that off the list. I really don't get much out of the bird's eye view thing, and Tim said he doesn't like it much either.  

8. Wished that I could go to my friend's garage sale in Tasmania. 

9. Decided to plan another Melbourne day. I'm going to do the St. Kilda day. I don't really have anything planned yet.  I just know we're going to go to St. Kilda.  And if we end up staying in St. Kilda, we won't have a St. Kilda day, because every day will be St. Kilda day.

10.  Zoomed into St. Kilda on the map site that Andrew sent to me. We're driving home soon, so I'll probably need to get back to this later.

For now, I'm a bit lost.  I really don't even know where to start. 

Oh!  Now I remember.  Someone mentioned a pier. Maybe we'll begin with that. 

I'm looking at Marine Pde now. It's near the pier. It looks pretty nice—very beachy.

11. Got a better view of St. Kilda on the map.  I left the page to try to get a better view of Luna Park.   I lost my place.  When I found my way back, I had a more precise view of St. Kilda.  Now I can get a better idea of things.  I guess before I wasn't zoomed in enough.

Maybe we'll go to the beach in St. Kilda?  This will probably be more likely if we're staying in St. Kilda.  I don't know if I want to go through the hassle of taking a tram there and having to change into our swimming suits. Well, even if we don't swim in the beach, we'll at least walk on the beach. 

12. Liked the palm trees that I can see on the street view of the Esplanade.  The street kind of reminds me of Oahu.  Then again, probably anything with palm trees will remind of of Hawaii.

13. Looked at the street view of Carlisle Street. I can see a bit of Luna Park. 

14. Decided to look up types of things that interest me, and see if St. Kilda has that.  For example, bookstores.

15. Didn't have much luck finding bookstores.  I got sidetracked by Fitzroy Street.   I'm thinking that's pretty famous, right?  We should probably go there.  I found it on the map.  It's near the pier. 

16. Found a whole website about bookstores in Australia, and they list a bookstore on Fitzroy.   It's one of those businesses that don't have their own website yet. I think that's pretty rare these days.  

The listing on the bookstore website says this place has no inventory. That's a bit puzzling.

17. Looked at a restaurant website about best restaurants in St. Kilda.   It's the same one I looked at for Southbank.  Should I take this website seriously.   Are these really the best restaurants—like someone tested the food, and/or people voted?   Or is it one of those things where he who pays the most, gets the listing?  

18. Liked the menu at Elbowroom.   It's neat that they have a whole vegetarian selection.    I just looked it up on the map.  It's on Fitzroy Street, and right near the pier.  

19.   Decided the restaurants on the restaurant site probably are good ones, but maybe a bit too trendy for us.   We might go to one or two during our stay there.   But I need to find the more casual places—the places where you can feel comfortable wearing a shorts and t-shirt; and feel comfortable bringing a kid.  The restaurants on the restaurant site look like they cater more to well-dressed pretty adults.  I don't feel I'd fit in too well.  

20. Looked at the Soulmama website.  The food might be good.  The website annoys me a bit.    

21. Intrigued by the 29th Apartment restaurant.   It's supposed to look like a NYC apartment.   I can't figure out the website though.   Where are you supposed to click?  

Ah!  Jack figured it out for me. 

22. Looked at photos of 29th Apartment on Facebook.  I'm not sure it's our type of place.  

23. Found a chocolate restaurant; Chocolateria San Churro.  I love these chocolate restaurants.

24. Found a burger place that looks good;  Grill'd  It's the type that has good vegetarian options. It's on Acland street, which is also the street that has Chocolateria San Churro.

25. Looked at Acland Street on the street view. It looks fun. 

I think I'm sold on the chocolate and burgers....unless something better pops up.

26. Looked up Liam Hemsworth, because my sister emailed us about him.  Maybe she'll become obsessed with Australia too.  She's into this movie called The Last Song.