Thursday, 8 December 2011

My Aunt Lydia Shelf

I got a fantastic package in the mail yesterday, from my Mom and Aunts Liz (& Lydia).  I really should have taken a photo upon opening it up - everything was secured in bubble wrap, and with absolute care and attention to detail, which was no great surprise, as that care and attention are all I saw when I went home on my last visit.  For the past 15 years, since the death of my Aunt Rose, my Aunt Lydia has lived near us, and I think her last few years were some of the happiest in her life, due in part to her own wonderful attitude towards life, and the presence of her two sisters being nearby.  Aunt Lydia could teach us all a thing or two, about being not only open but enthusiastic to new situations and people, always keen to make a new friend, and content with living in the moment.  I was lucky to inherit all of her White Sox memorabilia, and found a nice spot to display it proudly.


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Sunny with a Chance of Storms

Tomorrow is my Aussie work team Christmas day out. The weather is forecast to be sunny and 34 (or 92 for you Camericans). We'll be sailing, or catamaraning, to be more exact, then having a nice lunch, followed by some cricket or perhaps another drink or two, for those of us who can't drag ourselves from the pub to the dry zone. Add to this the fact that after over 4 years in the Southern hemisphere, I finally feel settled in and am looking forward to the holiday season in the heat, and I should be totally stoked. My bag is packed with sun tan lotion, a hat, a scarf, and a mango slicer, but I've lost my enthusiasm. A little after 9am perhaps, a sound such as that you might hear coming from a local mosque started to grow louder. Slowly, my co-workers gathered at the window. (Keep in mind that I've seen Australians march in the streets every few months these past couple of years that I've had the privilege to work in my current job.) The men went first, and then the women all joined hands and gathered onto the road, slowly beginning their own chant, and helping to hold up hand made banners, giving name to Imam Hussein. Apparently, he was a martyr killed in 680AD and this walk was part of the traditional Ashura commemorations, a Muslim holiday season of sorts. Unfortunately some of my co-workers decided it was an appropriate time to vent their personal opinions. The Muslims must be protesting, it was assumed, and perhaps because they had not yet turned Australia into a Muslim state. Traditional festivities in local schools are no longer going ahead, and it's the fault of the foreigners. Dear god, this is Adelaide, and we certainly wouldn't want any changes! If you've seen the world headlines today, you'll know that not all marches went on peacefully today, with only background noise. One wonders if any of those out on King William Street today might have been out in the crowd of which almost 30 people were killed today, had they not been given refuge here in South Australia. Don't get me wrong; I love coming into work and seeing a Christmas tree and reindeer on display, but I'm not always sure it's worth the trade off. I think we foreigners need a catch phrase. We're queer, We're here! is already taken but the simple fact is, we're here. We're here to stay. We're here and we all need to be accepted. We're here and we need to be able to bring our traditions with us, and celebrate who we are. If we aren't accepted, we can't integrate, and if we can't integrate, what does the future of Australia look like. Pretty bleak, I think...

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Virgin, You've Failed Me

My consideration turned to intention, but the experience didn't come near to meeting my expectation. Not considering the fact that online check-in and airport kiosk didn't work on my reservation, or that the pilot never announced that we would be 20 minutes late to our destination on the outbound flight, or that we were welcomed onboard 30 minutes before landing back in Adelaide on the return flight, Virgin did not do it for me. The reason why would be the flight attendant's reaction upon hearing my accent when I ordered a ginger beer. The conversation went like this:
FA: "Are you on your honeymoon!?"
Me: "No."
FA: "Oh, ummm....well it's just that...your rings are so sparkly."
Me: "Ok."
FA: "So how long are you travelling in Australia for?"
Me: (becoming annoyed) "The weekend."
FA: "Oh, but how long in total are you travelling around?"
Me: "I'm going to Perth for the weekend."
FA: "Yes, but where are you from?"
Me: "Adelaide" (thinking - you dumb %#$@ I live here)

End of conversation. Expats - do you hate this the way I do?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Why Don't you Tell me What you Really Think?

Remember the last time you broke up with someone and suddenly, your friends started telling you what they really thought about that person? He/she wasn't good enough for you, was boring, loud & obnoxious, or just plain lazy and irresponsible. (Not that I've ever dated anyone like that.) I sold my car last month. Remember this car? This is the car I used to make excuses for, was embarrassed to drive, and secretly wondered how long was going to be around. My acquaintences used to comment that its flaws weren't that bad and that it was perfectly reliable for my needs. And then I sold it. Suddenly, people wanted to know how far I thought the new owners would get on their road trip to Darwin. Comments started coming along the lines of "This new car is soooo much better. We were worried about you in that car. That car was bad!" I wonder what they all think of my husband...and my house!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Are you a Trailing Spouse?

The trailing spouse is often defined as one who makes the move abroad to follow a partner on a work assignment and due to visa restrictions, is prevented from seeking employment for themselves. These spouses are often seen as either living a luxurious, carefree lifestyle, or being bored and neglected. It's a narrow definition and one that I think should be broadened. Many of us end up expats out of circumstance rather than choice. While I wanted to live abroad, Australia wasn't on my radar. Now that I've settled here I like it, but I definitely followed my husband, and I have often felt that the term trailing spouse applies to me. Did you ever consider yourself a trailing spouse, and if so, why?

Monday, 20 June 2011


It's true - the more I use Facebook, the less I blog. It's as though short, brainless utterances are replacing proper writing. On that note, let me tell you about Singapore. One of the best things about living in Australia is work life balance, and over Easter, we had a 5 day weekend, so we added a couple of days and off we went, on the shortest international flight we'd been on in over 5 years. This was our first international trip in just as long (that didn't involve seeing family or moving) and was well deserved. I was looking forward to going to a new place that had a diversity of cultures and a reputation for amazingly varied cuisine. We did eat well, see a lot of new and old architecture, and experience a variety of culture, but there was something I didn't love about Singapore. I can't quite put my finger on it, but the place almost had a Disney like feel. It was just too touristy for me, or perhaps we just had too much time there, but it felt like there were too many expensive little alcoves built simply to relieve visitors of their cash. That being said, I'd recommend Singapore for a stopover, or a 3 day stop on a visit to Asia, and perhaps, while I'm slogging through Thailand on one of our next trips, Singapore will look heavenly.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Coffee Anyone?

One of the differences between working in the US and Australia is that, working as an Executive Assistant, I'm expected to do menial tasks for those above me, such as getting the coffee...and occasionally even being sent to pick up lunch. I can remember only once being asked to go get lunch for a boss in the US as he was running late for a meeting, and he apologised profusely for asking. Nowadays, I'm very often asked to come into a room, take drink orders, then go make the teas and coffees. I keep my mouth shut because I like my workplace, and I know the culture is different here, but I still find it a bit off. I don't think secretaries in the US have gotten coffee since the '80s, or perhaps it began in the '70s with Iris Rivera's protest. If you're an admin, do you make the coffees, and where do you live?

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The Rest of my Life -or- Now What?!

Paris, France (March)
England & Ireland (Aug/Sept)

Ireland (March)
Montreal (August)
Ireland (Aug/Sept)
Northern Ireland (November)

Northern Ireland (June - Sept)

Scotland (March)
Wales & England (May)
Ireland (December)

Amsterdam (February)
Paris (April)
Prague (April)
Northern Ireland (July)

The above is off of the last page of a blank book I've used for recipes for over 10 years. I have listed trips, from 1998 to 2007, at which point I moved 'Down Under'. When I pulled it out the other day, I realised I hadn't added anything since then, and then I realised aside from travelling around Australia and going home to the US a couple of times, I haven't really been anywhere in about 3 years. When I say I haven't been anywhere, I mean I haven't been outside of the country, which for me is a big deal since, as you can see, I used to do a lot of trips overseas. In addition to that, I'd lived in 5 different countries since 2004, so being in the same country for the past 3 years has felt rather stiffling. I decided to do a bit of a google on settling down after travelling. While I don't remember exactly what words I used, I came up with blogs such as the Grounded Traveler, the Rest of my Life, and one where I found this quote: "After so many years in perpetual motion, it's difficult to accept settling down and staying put." Ain't that the truth, I thought! After years of thinking about where I wanted to end up, putting some plans into action, and seeing some outcomes, I'm grounded. I'm married, I own a house, and I live very far from anywhere I can get to within a reasonable amount of time and in a cost efficient manner. Add to that, there are only 3 countries Adelaide Airport has flights to directly, and there goes my habit of doing a quick trip abroad on the weekend. So, the question is, now what? How do I avoid being a boring married homeowner? How do I keep life exciting? And how do I continue to do often what I love best - travel, particularly while I'm still paying off my grad school fees and renovating a house? I haven't quite figured it out yet, so I'll have to check back in later. This, right here...this blogging, is one of those things I do that makes life a bit more interesting. I may do it less frequently, and my voice may have changed over the years I've been doing it, but it somehow helps me to touch base with that part of myself that is always forward looking, thinking about what may be still to come.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Turning Wine into Water

Today marks one year and one day at my current job (well, when I began this post a few weeks ago anyway). Last year, at my first staff meeting, I was called upon as a newbie and asked a few introductory questions. I'm not sure my new boss liked either of my answers. In addition to coming up with the Big Rocking Horse as my favourite South Australian tourist destination, I answered that I never make New Year's resolutions. It's true. I find it pointless to make a resolution simply because it's expected based upon the time of year, particularly since most of those resolutions deal with the same old tired things people typically aspire to but never achieve. I'm making an exception to my rule this year, however. Two things spurred me to action. One was seeing a magazine advertisement for FebFast, which is the idea to give up alcohol for the shortest month of the year. Similar to Movember, participants usually donate to register, and collect donations from supporters, but I'm too cheap for that, so I'll simply cheer myself on. I'm going to replace all that alcohol with water and see if it makes any difference to my newly acquired allergies and the frequent dehydration I feel living in South Australia. Would love if it made a difference to my waistline as well! The second thing that made me realise I needed to make some changes was finding out that a new friend was moving away. The truth is, Expats move more often than others, and since I hang out mostly with expats, some of the friends I make are not going to stick around. I'd grown a bit lazy and complacent, not getting around to planning a monthly Expats in Adelaide meet up, but realise it's a good idea, no matter how many friends you have, to keep meeting new people. So far, I've gone 4 days without any booze, and the 2nd yearly expat meet up is this week. Perhaps I'll call these my Australia Day resolutions since I'm a month late!